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Why Apple's Tim Cook is coming to India

Sahil Mohan Gupta
Sahil Mohan GuptaMay 17, 2016 | 15:07

Why Apple's Tim Cook is coming to India

This week, Tim Cook will become the first Apple CEO to travel to India. Yes, not even Steve Jobs travelled to India while he was Apple's top boss. In the recent past, Apple has made it abundantly clear that India is a key growth market for it and its importance is evident by the fact that its sales have tapered off in a market like China.

The news of Cook's visit comes after Apple uncharacteristically announced an investment of $1 billion in the Chinese ride-sharing service Didi. This also highlights that compared to China, India remains a vastly small market for the company. So why is Tim Cook coming to India?

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Cook could probably be meeting the PM to push through the plan for refurbished iPhones in India.

1. One of the reasons being cited for Cook's visit is that he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Cook could probably be meeting the PM to push through the plan for refurbished iPhones in India, which has currently been stopped in its tracks by the environment ministry.

2. Cook, who will be meeting Modi a second time after the PM's 2015 visit to Silicon Valley, is expected to announce an incubator along the the lines of the Digital India and Start-Up India missions. The development wouldn't be too dissimilar from what Apple has done in China.

3. Apple has got the permission to open its iconic stores in India. Reports suggest that the stores will be opened by the end of 2017 in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. Cook would probably be shown some of the possible locations being decided upon.

4. Cook may visit Hyderabad, where the company is set to launch an elaborate research centre with a team dedicated to working on Maps. Apple's Maps are greatly lacking in India and if the company wants to build on its services division, which has been doing very well, it will need to be successful in the Indian market.

5. Tim Cook could also meet executives from Indian telecom firm Reliance Jio, which is expected to launch the most broad ranging 4G network in India. In his recent earning report, Cook cited the lack of 4G as one of the main reasons behind the low penetration of the iPhone in India.

If Cook manages to nail a bundling deal with Reliance for the iPhone, Apple will be well placed to capture a great chunk of the market.

6. Apple's Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn has been scouting for locations in Maharashtra to set up a facility to manufacture iPhones. Cook is expected to meet up with Foxconn executives for the factory. Apple desperately needs to make iPhones in India to bring their price down so that it can better compete with the likes of Xiaomi in the subcontinent.

Apple's cheapest phone - the iPhone SE - is sold for Rs 40,000 in India while in the US it starts at a mere $399 - this is crux of the problem the firm faces.

Last updated: May 18, 2016 | 17:57
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