Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) yesterday said the iPhone would go into mass production in India this year, a shift for the largest assembler of Apple Inc’s handsets that has long concentrated production in China.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited him to India as the Taiwanese company plans its expansion in the country, Gou said.
Apple has had older smartphones produced at a plant in Bangalore for several years, but now would expand manufacturing to more recent models.
“In the future we will play a very important role in India’s smartphone industry,” Gou said at a forum in Taipei on the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act. “We have moved our production lines there.”
India has become the fastest-growing smartphone market in the world, while China stagnates and Apple loses share to local competitors such as Huawei Technologies Co (華為) and Xiaomi Corp (小米).
Apple has been a minor player in India, in part because of its high prices, but local manufacturing would help the Cupertino, California-based company avoid import duties of 20 percent.
Gou also said that he plans to step back from daily operations to focus on broader strategy.
“I will still be involved and be in charge of the company’s major directions in the future, but I will take a more advisory role on daily operations,” Agency France-Presse quoted Gou as saying. “I feel that my personal influence should be toned down.”
Gou is not stepping down or relinquishing his chairmanship, said Louis Woo (胡國輝), special assistant to Gou.
It is not yet clear how Apple’s steps into India will affect its China operations. China has been the company’s most important manufacturing base for years, home to Hon Hai’s biggest facilities and hundreds of other partners.
Hon Hai already has two assembly sites in the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where it makes devices for Xiaomi and Nokia Oyj.
Locating more production in India would help diversify Apple and Hon Hai’s manufacturing footprint away from China amid ongoing trade tensions with the US.
The Indian assembly line would serve local and export markets by the time Apple announces its next iPhone models in September, people familiar with the matter have said.
The Taiwanese company, the biggest maker of iPhones, is to initially invest about US$300 million to set up for Apple, with investments to ramp up as capacity expands, they said.
Gou said that his company is talking with the Indian government about investment terms.
He has a dozen software people in India and he plans to increase that to 600, he said.
“We are the primary assembler after all,” Gou said. “If our customer wants to boost its scale, it will need to depend on us to grow the comprehensive supply chain.”
Gou also said he plans to write a book to pass on the lessons of his 45 years of management experience.
“The present goal I set for myself is to let young people learn sooner in order to take over sooner and replace me sooner,” he said.
Additional reporting by AFP
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