Wed, May 18, 2016 - Page 15 News List

Apple’s Cook aims to pry open India market on visit


Apple Inc chief executive officer Tim Cook is to unveil a development center for digital maps during his multiday visit to India this week, a person with knowledge of the trip said, as he seeks to make further inroads in the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market.

Cook is on his first official trip to the country, where he will also introduce an accelerator program for Apple’s iOS operating system developers. The maps center is to be based in Hyderabad. Apple, which is seeking to open retail stores in the country, has also been facing opposition to its efforts to import and sell refurbished iPhones in India.

Cook is planning to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, although that schedule has not been finalized because the results of several Indian state assembly elections are due this week, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the information is not yet public.

“Mr Cook is certainly going to come with an agenda,” Gartner India research director Vishal Tripathi said. “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.”

Top executives from Facebook Inc, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) and other global technology firms have trekked to India to meet Modi these past few months.

India is on the cusp of become a potentially huge consumer market, as more of the country’s 1.3 billion people move into the middle class.

“For Apple and other technology makers, India may not yet be a China — but it is an under-penetrated market where per capita income and purchasing power are going up offering huge growth opportunities,” Tripathi said.

Cook’s trip comes on the heels of a deal struck in China this month, where Apple is investing US$1 billion in car-hailing app Didi Chuxing (滴滴出行).

Cook has said in the past that he sees India as where China was seven to 10 years ago.

While Apple’s iPhone sales declined globally for the first time ever in the first three months of this year, shipments in India grew 56 percent in the period.

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