Apple Inc. will announce an accelerator program for Indian tech startups when CEO Tim Cook visits the country later this week, reported the Economic Times and Factor Daily on Monday. Reuters reported that during his trip to India, Cook will be meeting with the Prime Minister – Narendra Modi. Cook’s trip suggests that the iPhone maker is determined to see even more growth in the country.
What Apple plans for India?
In the past, Apple Inc. has created development centers geared towards iOS apps in markets like Italy and Brazil. The tech giant is planning to expand the program to other countries around the world. Apple’s accelerator program will be focused on iOS apps, but is being called “Startup accelerator,” reports Factory Daily. Also, as per the Economic Times, the program will be tied to two of Modi’s programs – Digital India and Startup India.
Also, the iPhone maker is planning to open three Apple Stores over the next 18 months in India, reports Factor Daily. In April, a report from The Times of India claimed the government may do away with the requirement for stores to source 30% of the goods within the country. This would pave the way for the first Apple Stores in the country.
The Indian market could potentially be huge for the iPhone maker, and this trip of the CEO is going to be really important for the progress of the US firm in the country. In the Q1, iPhone sales in the country were up 56% last year, said Cook in April. Last year, more than 100m smartphones were sold in India, and the market is anticipated to grow by 25% this year, making India one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets worldwide
It won’t be a smooth ride in India
With a focus on India, Apple Inc. is hoping to offset some of the slowing growth from China. However, there are still a lot of challenges like distribution and awareness. Carriers do not sell smartphones in the country, which is partially the reason why only few stores carry iPhone in India. Also, it has been found by some studies that nearly half of the people in India are not aware of Apple as a brand.
In recent weeks, there have been a few speed bumps for the US firm. As per Bloomberg, India reportedly refused to act on an application by the iPhone maker to refurbish and import older iPhones for sale in the country. Many smartphone companies including Karbonn and Samsung reportedly banded together to oppose the Apple’s application.
As per the reports, Prime Minister Modi and Cook will be discussing the application, which has been created to sell refurbished phones. Also, there are several groups of people in the tech industry that are a little wary of the attempts by the American firms to establish themselves in the Indian market. An example is the group that banded together to oppose Free Basics from Facebook.