Apple is officially going to make its iPhones in India, in the city of Bengaluru from April. Taking the ‘Make in India’ route the company is finally moving closer to iPhone assembly in India. Karnataka IT Minister Priyank Kharge told PTI that the Cupertino giant will be ready to begin assembling iPhones in Bengaluru in less than a month, with an aim to increase its foothold in the fast developing Indian smartphone market. Earlier in February also, the state government had issued a press release notifying about the plans. According to the statement, the government welcomed a proposal from Apple to begin initial manufacturing operations in the state, in a sign the tech company is slowly moving forward with plans to assemble iPhones in the country.
Today, Kharge told PTI, “In less than a month, we will have something out – Apple will start assembling and making its high-end iPhones at its plant in the city. Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron Corp will help Apple in doing so.” According to the minister, making iPhones in the country will automatically lower the prices which will help the company gain a foothold in the country. He added, “Assembling and making of iPhones in Bengaluru will boost Apple’s chances of gaining a foothold in the fast-growing Indian market because it will allow the company to lower prices.”
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Earlier in December, the first reports started coming in about Apple’s plans in India. The Wall Street Journal had reported that according to two senior government officials this plan of Apple to make iPhones in India may soon be successful. The report had cited sources who informed that there was a letter given by Apple to the Indian government and later senior trade ministry authorities had a meeting with the company officials. WSJ quoted a government official as saying, that Apple wants financial incentives to manufacture products in India. Recently, according to a report, the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) had endorsed the revenue department stance that Apple’s demand for an import duty exemption for certain components for making iPhones in India can’t be met.
Meanwhile, Charge clarified, “My position with the central government has been to not give special treatment to Apple alone, but treat other players equally. Open the entire eco-system for high-end manufacturing of electronics if you really want to compete with China and Taiwan.” He suggested that the government should also give companies, including Apple, particular timelines, subsidies and incentives to create a common field for them.
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Although the Karnataka government had announced that Apple would set up a manufacturing unit near Bengaluru, sources had earlier told FE that the iPhone maker plans to set up only a ‘pilot project’ there (to produce around 3-5 lakh phones), and the extent of manufacturing in India hinges on the kind of concessions the central government is willing to offer to the tech giant.
Tim Cook considers India a big market and visited India in May 2016 when he met PM Narendra Modi, and other celebrities. Cook had said that there was a rise in revenues in India. The Cupertino giant currently sells its devices through Indian distribution companies and retailers, the WSJ report had said. The assembling of iPhones is done mainly by Foxconn Tech Group in China. However, other big rivals like Samsung and even China’s Xiaomi have been assembling in India for some time.
This move will give a big boost in the sales of its devices, especially iPhones which still have not made much of a mark in a big smartphone market like India. The company had also in January reportedly sought permission from the government to open its stores. In June, PM Modi-led government eased the FDI restrictions in many sectors, where it said that single brand retailers like Apple are allowed to open stores but they have to purchase a minimum of 30 percent of manufacturing materials from vendors in India after a period of three years which can be difficult of Apple as there are not many manufacturers in India.