After visiting China yesterday to meet the country’s officials and promote a $1 billion acquisition of the local ride-sharing service Didi Chuxing, Apple’s boss Tim Cook is touring India today and is planning to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He is also expected to unveil a development center for Apple Maps in the country along with an accelerator program for iOS developers, Bloomberg reported today.
“Mr. Cook is certainly going to come with an agenda,” said Vishal Tripathi, a research director at Gartner India.
“High on that list is permission to open Apple Stores in India, bring up the closed chapter of importing and selling refurbished phones in the country and also explore what’s in it for Apple if it brings assembly and manufacturing to the country.”
India is increasingly becoming an important market for Apple, which currently does not operate its branded stores there.
As for its retail presence in the 1.25 billion people market, the company currently sells its products through a network of local resellers but is also eying high street locations in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai for massive 10,000+ square foot company-owned stores, said to open by the end of 2017.
Unfortunately, Cupertino’s plans to import and sell used iPhones in India were shot down by the government after environmental complaints from Samsung and local phone makers such as Intex and Micromax.
More than a billion smartphone sales are expected in India in the next five years, according to Counterpoint Research. In spite of slowing iPhone sales in the United States and elsewhere, India was the only country where that trend was reverted as iPhone sales surged 56 percent in the January quarter.
“I’m encouraged by the results that we’re beginning to see there, and believe there’s a lot, lot more,” Cook said on Apple’s latest earnings call.
“I view India as where China was maybe seven to ten years ago from that point of view, and I think there’s a really great opportunity there.”
Photo: Tim Cook on Apple’s campus in Cupertino, California.