Apple chief executive, who his on his maiden visit to India and was in Delhi on Friday, has said that Apple was looking to be in India for long run and added that he was feeling at home here.
Cook, who is on a four-day visit to the country and is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday to talk about allowing the company to sell refurbished iPhones with new warranty, defied the scorching heat and began the Delhi leg of his four-day India visit with a call at his corporate office where he was greeted by Apple India employees.
He also visited two Apple resellers’ store at DLF Galleria mall in Gurgaon and is believed to have visited a multi-brand retail store at the same place.
The CEO, who’s visit is exclusively being covered by NDTV, told the channel that he was “very happy” with the stores at Galleria. “I went to one store in the morning and I was very happy with what I had seen there,” he said.
Cook has been on a Asia visit to work his charm offensive as global sales of Apple’s iPhones are slowing down. His visit to India assumes significance as India is the fastest growing smartphone in the world and has recently taken over US as the second largest smartphone market.
“I am looking at India holistically and we are here for the next thousand years,” Cook said on Friday, adding that he instantly felt like he belonged to India.
The CEO further said that Apple was rethinking India from a strategic point of view. “I came to India to learn about the people, the culture and how businesses are done, what people are interested in and what their hopes and aspirations are, I am leaving with more knowledge in all of those,” the CEO said adding that the saw a bright future for Apple retail in India.
However, asked about the challenges in the country, Cook said that India’s duties and takes are a problem. “Our profitability is materially less in India, we realise that the prices are high, we want to do things to lower that. We want the user experience to have all the services and want to make sure that if there’s something very unique in the country, we have thought that through in our product,” he said clarifying that the company would not lower the bar for quality of products.
Cook also explained why Apple wanted to offer refurbished phones in the country. “On the certified pre-owned issue in particular, if you think about automobiles - brands like Lexus and Mercedes have been selling certified pre-owned cars. We have this programme in the US and in most parts of the world. When they are sold they are sold with warranty, just like a new product. We would never sell a product that we didn’t think was right. We think it is good for people,” Cook told the Hindu BusinessLine newspaper.
“It’s not the only solution but one part of puzzle. We would like to offer it and we hope we are able to articulate that clearly and we hope we can get an agreement,” he added.
The CEO, when asked, said that “India was different from China” and added that announcement of map-making facility in Hyderabad and App development facility in Bengaluru was just the beginning. He went onto say that 4G was very critical to India’s progress.
Speaking on Apple’s services in India, Cook said that he was planning to bring Apple Pay in India. Apple Pay is a mobile payment and digital wallet service that lets users make payments through Apple devices. Samsung also has a similar service.
The CEO after his meeting at the corporate office met Bharti Airtel’s group CEO and chairman Sunil Mittal to discuss about partnership. Cook was supposed to visit the iZen and iWorld store later during the day but later skipped.
“Cook was belived to visiting our iZen store, a part of iZenica - a premium Apple reseller, as this was the first Apple reseller store in the country,” Sambit Mishra, an employee of the store said. iZenica has 11 stores in the country. Apple sells its products via distributors and resellers in India. Apple premium resellers are the big stores followed by Apple resellers, which are a little smaller, and Apple mobile resellers who only sell mobiles and tablets and not Mac computers.
iWorld is a premium Apple reseller. Distributors of Apple in India are Redington, Ingram and Beetel.
Cook, who came to Delhi from Kanpur, watched the IPL match between Gujarat Lions and Kolkata Knight Riders there on Thursday. He arrived at the Green Park stadium on the invitation of IPL chairman and Congress leader Rajeev Shukla.
The atmosphere at the IPL match, Cook said, was “exciting” and added “It’s tough to watch in this heat. But it’s exciting to watch cricket.”