Apple CEO Tim Cook is reportedly heading to India this week as part of the tech giant’s push to open a critical new smartphone market.
According to Bloomberg and India’s The Economic Times, Cook’s visit will occur later this week and will include a number of agenda items. Bloomberg said the trip will include the introduction of a digital map development center as well as an accelerator program for iOS developers. The Economic Times said Cook may also meet with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, possibly to discuss the country’s manufacturing and technology markets.
The trip comes just two weeks after India’s telecommunications ministry shot down Apple’s request to sell refurbished iPhones in the country’s mobile device market. Apple is still reportedly seeking to open its first retail stores in the country.
In a recent interview on CNBC’s Mad Money, Cook said India’s push to roll out LTE this year presents a “huge market potential” for Apple and other makers of 4G devices, and said the company is “really putting energy in India.”
And for good reason.
The India market Apple is looking to tap is growing at a staggering pace, even in the face of an overall smartphone slowdown.
According to Gartner, sales growth for smartphones in India is forecast to hit 29 percent in 2016 and exhibit double-digit growth over the next two years. That forecast was backed up by International Data Corporation (IDC), which also said smartphone shipments to India are expected to grow at double-digit rates this year.
IDC said 25.6 million smartphones were shipped to India in the fourth quarter 2015 and 103.6 million were shipped to India during the full year 2015.
But right now the India market is a fairly local one.
In the fourth quarter 2015, International Data Corporation (IDC) reported approximately 60 percent of smartphone vendors in India were either domestic or based in China, while just 37 percent were global vendors.
Much of the heavy dependence on domestic vendors stems from the country’s “Make in India” campaign to encourage local manufacturing. But it hasn’t stopped some other major vendors from jumping into the market.
According to an IDC analysis of the Indian market share by brand, South Korea’s Samsung took top honors, with 26.8 percent of the market share. The next largest brand, India’s Micromax, accounted for just 14.1 percent of the market share.
Regulators aside, one of the barriers for Apple in the India market will undoubtedly be price. While IDC said the average selling price of smartphones globally is expected to be $241 by 2018, the benchmark is expected to be a much lower price of $102 by 2018 in India.