Apple chief Tim Cook today met Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of India’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel, and discussed matters like 4G roll out in the country and growth in the Indian telecom space. Other top leaders from Bharti Airtel including CEO of India and South Asia Gopal Vittal were also present in the meeting that lasted nearly a hour.
Speaking at an Assocham event, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today lauded Apple CEO Tim Cook’s long-term commitment to India and called for working in collaboration for growth and business opportunities.
“Since he has made a public statement that his commitment to India is going to be of 1000 years, I also take this opportunity publicly to compliment the CEO of Apple (Tim Cook) who is in India for his public commitment for the attachment with India.
According to sources, Hike messenger founder and CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal was also present and he made a presentation to the head of the Cupertino-based company about the growth seen by the instant messaging app.
Hike competes with the likes of Facebook-owned WhatsApp, Line and Viber.
They added discussions revolved around forging alliances to help the US-based firm expand its retail presence in the country.
“It was a great meeting. Airtel and Apple go a long way back. Given the lead of Airtel in 4G, this relationship is going to grow stronger,” sources said. Cook, who is on his maiden visit to India, has already met Vodafone India CEO Sunil Sood in Mumbai.
Besides, he has also met leaders from India Inc including ICICI Bank’s Chanda Kochhar, Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry and Tata Consultancy Services CEO N Chandrasekaran.
He also had a chance meeting with Mukesh Ambani’s younger son, Anant, when he visited Siddhivinayak temple earlier this week.
Cook has said he believes it is “exactly the right time” to be in India as telecom firms roll out 4G high speed internet services.
Apple, which is seeing declining sales elsewhere in the world, is betting big on India for growth as sales here saw an impressive 56 per cent growth in January-March.
Apple had forayed into the Indian market in 2008 in partnership with Bharti Airtel. In the following years, the US-based firm has expanded partnerships with players like Vodafone and distribution firms like Ingram Micro and Redington.
In the US, iPhones are often carrier-locked to make them more affordable. However, in India that is not the case.
Analysts have attributed high cost of Apple’s devices to be a major deterrent to sales of iPhone that competes with Android-based smartphones.
Apple is also pushing for introducing refurbished phones in the country that may help in making its smartphones more affordable to a larger audience. Cook, who is meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow, is expected to take up the issue as part of the discussions.
Cook, who is on his maiden visit to India, has said he believes it is “exactly the right time” to be in India as telecom firms roll out 4G high speed Internet services.
“We are not here for a year or few years, we are here for a long time, 100s of years. And we are a long term company,” he had said.
Apple, which is seeing declining sales elsewhere in the world, is betting big on India for growth as sales here saw an impressive 56 per cent growth in the January-March 2016 quarter.
Prasad said that all the major companies are present in India and the smartphone demand in the country is growing.
“Last year 10 crore smartphones were sold in India. I see very soon India will be home to 50 crore smartphones,” Prasad said. Apple is exploring opportunity to sell refurbished phones in the country but has faced resistance for its plan. According to sources, the company intends to get into manufacturing after it gets enough volume.
The government officials, however, want the other way round and sounded the company that it should start manufacturing first and the refurbished phone sale should be limited to handsets that have been produced in India.