From a dumping ground to potential market: How India gradually became the 'apple' of Tim Cook's eyes
- Rewind to the early years of the iPhone and Apple showed least to no interest in the Indian market.
- Tim Cook also made a surprise yet critical visit to India. Starting his Indian trip with the visit to the auspicious Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai.
- Apple witnessed its first dip in revenue in over a decade last year. Post the dip, the company has started looking beyond its stagnating US and other markets towards emerging markets like India.
Apple launched its highly awaited iPhone X, along with the iPhone 8 models. All three devices were announced for the Indian market during the global launch for the other regions, and this time around, we didn’t have to wait too long to know the India prices either.
Rewind to the early years of the iPhone and Apple showed least to no interest in the Indian market. Apple devices, especially the iPhone, reached India almost a year later from its launch in other regions. So, by the time a new iPhone was launched, Indians would get their hands on a year-old model, often accused of being refurbished. In fact, even today, as Apple and Indian govt are prancing around for a closer relationship, reports about Apple's push to sell used iPhones in the country hasn't stopped. This move will not only hamper the 'Make in India' initiative, but what is really worrisome is how it can turn the country into a dumping yard of e-waste. However, this time around, Apple is promising to abide by all rules and guidelines required to do so.
The reason for this push is simple - the high price tags that the iPhones carry are the biggest hindrance to woo 'value for money' Indian audiences. The onslaught of Chinese vendors like Xiaomi and OnePlus has made it further tougher. While Apple cannot sell (at lower prices) its refurbished devices, it plans to set up local manufacturing units in India, the prices of the iPhone could drop as the 12.5 percent additional duty on full imports can be avoided, to beat the competition. After all, iPhone is all about 'status', at least in the Indian market, and people are flocking to embrace it slowly yet steadily.
The changes have been seen over the past couple of years. Apple CEO Tim Cook has been mentioning India in the company's earnings call, something that has never happened before. He has repeatedly mentioned that India is among the fastest growing market for the company, and even compared it to be in a position where China was 5-6 years ago. He also reaffirmed Apple's commitments towards investing in the Indian market.
Tim Cook also made a surprise yet critical visit to India. Starting his Indian trip with the visit to the auspicious Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai. Then we've been also hearing about Apple's mapping unit in Hyderabad, and the office space leased in Bengaluru. The company is reportedly readying its retail stores in the country too. And, are trying to tighten the relationship with the government to start manufacturing on the Indian soil.
But, why India is suddenly an important market for Apple? Apple witnessed its first dip in revenue in over a decade last year. Post the dip, the company has started looking beyond its stagnating US and other markets towards emerging markets like India. As other markets lose steam, including the slowdown in the China market, Apple has been realising the untapped potential of the Android dominated Indian market. After all, we are the second largest smartphone market. Analysts believe that the retail stores are mainly to give users a look and feel of its devices, and introduce them to the Apple ecosystem.
It is known that Wistron has begun production of the iPhone SE in India at its facility in Peenya, Bengaluru earlier this year. The report now adds that the company is looking at expanding and is in talks with the Karnataka government for a piece of land. But, that’s not all. The upcoming iPhone SE 2 is also rumoured to be in the pipeline and highly speculated to be ‘made in India’.