Apple CEO Tim Cook’s visit to India comes at a time when the US technology giant is hit by slower growth in global sales of its flagship products and has his work cut out in a market that is growing fast.
The chief executive, who sees India as the company’s next growth curve point, is in the country to forge partnerships and open exclusive stores that will help boost iPhone sales. Cook has a packed schedule during his stay with visits to Gurgaon, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
On Wednesday, Cook began his first official visit to India by offering prayers at Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak temple, where he also met Anant Ambani, the son of Reliance Industries chairperson Mukesh Ambani.
He is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. He met Modi at a Silicon Valley event in the US last September, where they discussed manufacturing plans under Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.
“In Delhi, after greeting employees at the Apple’s corporate office at One Horizon Centre in Gurgaon, he is expected to visit iZen Store (Apple authorised reseller) in Green Park and the iWorld Store (Apple premium store) in Ambience Mall in Vasant Kunj,” IANS cited an unnamed source as saying.
The source, however, did not give details of his meeting with Modi.
He may also call upon Maharashtra chief minister later in the day, although this couldn’t be immediately confirmed as Devendra Fadnavis is in Delhi.
India Inc seems to have rolled out a red carpet for Cook, albeit without much noise.
Cook will meet Cyrus Mistry, the chairman of Tata Sons, and is also likely to meet N Chandrasekaran, CEO, Tata Consultancy Services. He is also learnt to have met Vodafone’s India CEO Sunil Sood after his visit to the Siddhivinayak Temple.
He is also expected to meet Bharti Airtel executives.
After Modi became the Prime Minister, top global executives have lined up to visit India. These include Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, India-born CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Chennai-born CEO of Google Sundar Pichai, and Alibaba chairman Jack Ma among others.
Apple’s plans in India
The Apple CEO flew to the country from China, where Apple announced a $1 billion investment in the local ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing.
Hours after Cook began his first official visit to the country, the Cupertino-based technology major revealed plans to establish a new app design and development accelerator facility in Bengaluru.
“Tens of thousands of developers in India make apps for iOS and this initiative will provide additional, specialised support for them,” the company said in a statement.
It added the facility will help instruct developers on best practices, help them hone their skills and transform the design, quality and performance of their apps on the iOS platform.
It’s not just Bengaluru as Apple may announce several more projects during his trip.
Officials in Hyderabad said that Apple will launch its development centre there on Thursday. The facility will commence operations on one lakh square feet leased space in WaveRock, a building owned by real estate giant Tishman Speyer at Nanakramguda.
However, it was not confirmed if Cook will be present to inaugurate the company’s first development centre in India.
“Will share a big news with you all day after tomorrow. Suspense till then,” Telangana IT minister KT Rama Rao tweeted.
The US-based firm plans to expand the facility to 2.5 lakh square feet by next year. It will have 2,500 employees, sources said. The company is also planning to build its own campus.
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao or his son and IT minister Rama Rao may make an announcement for allocation of land to Apple for its campus.
Cook is also expected to meet Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who is trying to attract big-ticket investments for his state.
Value of Indian market
Cook’s visit to India assumes importance given that the company’s iPhones are seeing fast growth here, even as growth has slowed in developed markets. Sales of iPhones in India rose 56% in the January-March quarter even as global sales slipped 16%.
Cook said earlier that the company was placing “increasing emphasis” on emerging markets like India, where there will be “disproportionate growth versus the more developed areas.”
“The trip signifies how significant Indian market has become for Apple. Cook is coming here to announce technology for the future,” Vishal Tripathi, research director at global market consultancy firm Gartner, told IANS.
Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn is already present here and is looking to set up a manufacturing base in the country.
“If Cook announces concrete plans to set up a manufacturing unit here, this will create more jobs and bring in better competition in the smartphone and other devices market in the low-price segment,” Tripathi added.
According to him, Cook may raise the issue of allowing Apple to import and sell refurbished iPhones at a cheaper price in India. This will give Apple a slot in the mid- and low-priced segment.
“India is incredibly exciting. The population of India is incredibly young. Almost half the people in India are below 25. And so I see the demographics there also being incredibly great for a consumer brand and for people that really want the best products,” Cook said earlier this year.
Cook, who joined Apple in March 1998, was made chief executive of the company, succeeding Steve Jobs, on August 24, 2011.
Hit by slower growth in the sale of its flagship products iPhone, iPad and Mac globally, Apple’s revenue dropped for the first time since 2003 as the tech giant released earning reports for the second quarter of fiscal 2016 in March.
Revenue was down in both Americas and China -- Apple’s two biggest territories. It declined around 10% in the Americas and 26% in China.
According to reports, the company is looking for new growth markets like India after its sales of its the sale of its flagship products declined.
(With IANS inputs)