NEW DELHI: Apple is trying to woo India with investment commitments, as its chief met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and members of his Cabinet ahead of the opening of a second official store in New Delhi on Thursday.
Apple CEO Tim Cook landed in India on Monday and launched the company’s first and long-anticipated official store in the country’s financial hub, Mumbai, a day later.
On Wednesday evening, he met Modi, as well as Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and Deputy IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar, ahead of the opening of another Apple store in an upscale mall of the national capital.
Cook’s India trip is the strongest sign yet that the region is in now in Apple’s strategic focus as supply chains move away from China.
Modi tweeted after his meeting with Cook that it was “an absolute delight to meet” him, as the Apple chief also took to Twitter to thank the PM for the warm welcome.
“We share your vision of the positive impact technology can make on India’s future — from education and developers to manufacturing and the environment, we’re committed to growing and investing across the country,” Cook said.
With Vaishnaw, he discussed increasing Apple’s engagement “across manufacturing, electronics exports, app economy, skilling, sustainability and job creation especially for women,” the IT minister said, adding that they are “jointly charting a long-term and strong relationship.”
Apple began the assembly of an iPhone model in the country in 2017, but until now its presence in the Android-dominated country has not been significant, as most phones sold in India cost much less than even the least-expensive iPhone.
Apple’s share in India’s smartphone market was less than 4 percent last month, according to data portal Statista, compared with China, where it is around 20 percent.
But India could take over the role China has played in Apple’s business for the last 15 years.
Apple has begun to cut its dependence on China — a home base for the production of millions of its devices — as a trade war between Washington and Beijing intensifies and after COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns battered the biggest iPhone plant in Zhengzhou.
According to Nikhil Chawla, tech expert and founder of The Unbiased Blog, demand for Apple phones in China is also decreasing.
“China is saturated now, the amount you could sell in China has already reached the peak, but India is very much a growing market, a growing ecosystem that Apple always wanted to expand to,” he told Arab News.
Producing Apple devices in India would also be logical, Chawla added, as it would save the company from dependency on one country.
“It’s not necessary for them to move production from China to India, but they can have two separate workhorses, working in tandem, producing for all the markets,” he said.
“So, if there is, God forbid, another lockdown in China, they would have production going on in India.”
Hundreds of people gathered at the Select Citywalk Mall in Delhi to be the first ones to shop at its store as Cook arrived to open it.
Tirjot Singh, who arrived for the shop’s opening from Punjab, said he was at the venue already at 6 a.m.
“I am so very excited to meet him,” Singh said of the Apple CEO.
“As a kid, I used to read about Steve Jobs, and the things he has set up still continue in Apple. That’s why Apple is special to me. I am a fan of Apple, not just a customer of Apple.”
Ayush Jain, social media strategist and Apple enthusiast who brought his vintage Apple devices to the store, told Arab News he was there, like other Apple fanboys, to meet the company’s CEO.
“I became passionate about Apple when I was 17 years old,” he said.
“The first time I saw an iPhone, in 2008, I fell in love with it. And that time, I knew that the technology had been revolutionized.”