Very Bullish and Optimistic

Apple CEO Tim Cook has reiterated the iPhone maker's commitment to invest more money and energy in India, saying he is “very, very bullish and very, very optimistic“ about the country.
Talking to analysts during the tech giant's third quarter earnings call, Cook indicated expansion of Apple's manufacturing and distribution operations in the country. “We are investing in India...we've already launched an app accelerator centre,“ Cook said. “That's on top of working with the channel and looking at expanding our go-to-market in general. And we began to produce the iPhone SE there during the quarter, and we're really happy with how that's going. And so we're bringing all of our energies to bear there. I see a lot of similarities to where China was several years ago.“

Apple has started iPhone SE assembling operations in Bengaluru with partner Wistron, while it has plans to start full-fledged manufacturing operations in the country by bringing its key component makers under one roof, and has sought some tax exemptions and fiscal benefits from the Centre.

Market trackers said much of Apple's growth in India in the last few quarters came from wider distribution reach.

While the tier 2 and 3 cities are important for Apple when it comes to targeting first-time users in the country, the company's proposed own retail stores in big cities will appeal to repeat buyers to upgrade by controlling end-to-end experience and generating more interest in overall Apple devices and ecosystem.

In the April-June quarter, iPhone gained market share in the Indian premium smartphone market at 34%, up from 30% a year earlier. Rival Samsung led the market with 55% share during the quarter with China's OnePlus at the third spot with 9% share.

Cook's bullishness on India assumes significance considering Apple has been reporting slower sales in China.

Cook informed analysts that Mainland China was flat year over year during the third quarter and Hong Kong continued to drag down the total Greater China segment.

In contrast, Apple reported that many markets in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East were growing iPhone unit sales by more than 25%.

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