Apple’s Chief Executive Tim Cook will visit India this week and meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.
His visit comes at a crucial time as Apple seeks new growth markets such as India after posting its first-ever decline in iPhone sales. Apple is looking to set up its first retail outlet in India, where it only has about a 2 percent market share. But its sales there surged 56 percent in the first three months of this year, driven mainly by cheaper older-generation devices such as the iPhone 5S.
Tim Cook, who is visiting China after announcing a $1 billion investment in Chinese ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing, will fly to India on Tuesday in his first official visit to the country as the head of the US technology company, one of the sources said.
The sources declined to be named as the plan is not public yet. Apple declined to provide details of Cook’s schedule in India.
It was not immediately clear whether he would discuss importing refurbished iPhones with Indian government officials.
Apart from meeting Modi, Tim Cook will also hold meetings with employees and partners, the source said.
Since his election in 2014, Modi has courted US tech companies as part of his strategy to bring jobs to India. He met Cook last year during a high-profile visit to Silicon Valley, which included a “town hall” at Facebook headquarters with Mark Zuckerberg and a roundtable meeting with other CEOs including Google’s Sundar Pichai and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella.
Apple sees a “huge market potential” for its products in India and the technology giant is “really putting energy” in the country which will begin rolling out high-speed wireless networks this year, Tim Cook said recently.
The iPhone and iPad maker may get exemption from a mandatory local sourcing rule in India for foreign direct investment (FDI), which will enable the company to open single-brand retail stores in the country.
A government committee has recommended that the tech giant’s technology is fit to be called “cutting-edge technology”, which means it can be exempted from the rule on mandatory local sourcing (at 30%), sources told FE.
In a recent editorial, Financial Express called this likely move a step in the right direction. “Given that this will bring in both world-class technology/practices to India, apart from creating jobs, this can only be a good thing, both for Indian consumers as well as foreigners who want to invest in the country,” said the editorial.
At a time when Apple has posted its first-ever decline in iPhone sales, the growing importance of the Indian market cannot be overstated.
Apple also reported its first revenue drop in 13 years as the company credited with inventing the smartphone struggles with an increasingly saturated market.
Earlier this year, Cook had applauded the economic reforms unveiled by India, saying the world’s third largest smartphone market presents a “very good business environment” going ahead.
“So it’s a very rapidly expanding country. And I think the government in India is very interested in economic reforms and so forth that I think all speak to a really good business environment for the future,” Cook had said on an investor call.