Apple has outlined plans to manufacture products in India and sought financial incentives from the government to move ahead with these plans, according to government officials cited by the Wall Street Journal. Apple’s letter was sent last month, and Senior Trade Ministry authorities have met in recent weeks to discuss the matter.
Apple placed a strong bet on India, where it only controls roughly 5% of the booming smartphone market. IDC expects India to overtake the US as the world’s second-largest smartphone market behind China.
It is worth noting that Apple CEO Tim Cook said earlier this May that the company had no plans to set up a factory in India. Apparently, Cook’s position on the matter has changed during the past month, possibly after discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
“Apple wants to emulate its China model in India,” said one of the officials with direct knowledge of the matter. “The company wants financial incentives, which the concerned government departments are looking into,” the official said.
You may recall that Apple has sought to open retail stores in India. After months of back and forth, and various comments from different parties, the government loosened foreign–direct investment restrictions in several sectors, allowing Apple (as a single-brand retailer) to open stores if they purchase 30% of their manufacturing materials from Indian vendors after three years.
Apple could move closer to its goal and would be able to comply with the Indian regulations if it sets up a plant in the country, the WSJ says. Most Apple products are assembled in China. Other smartphone makers, such as Samsung and Xiaomi, already assemble their products destined for the Indian market locally.