Apple chief executive Tim Cook on Wednesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the iPhone manufacturer is looking to invest more in the world's second-largest smartphone market.
Cook, on his first trip to India in seven years, opened Apple's first retail store in the country in Mumbai on Tuesday and will launch another in Delhi on Thursday.
Looking to replicate what China did to Apple's business in the last 15 years, the tech giant is eyeing India's massive market with an expanding middle class to power sales growth, and potentially make it a home base for the production of millions of Apple devices.
Cook, whose company reached a new record of nearly USD 6 billion in sales for the year ended March 31, met the Prime Minister on Wednesday.
"Thank you Prime Minister @narendramodi for the warm welcome. We share your vision of the positive impact technology can make on India's future — from education and developers to manufacturing and the environment, we're committed to growing and investing across the country," he tweeted with a picture of him shaking hands with Modi.
Cook had last visited India in 2016 when the tech giant was just beginning to scale up operations in the country.
Apple, which launched its online store in India in 2020, has long wanted physical retail stores in the country. Its original plans for 2021 were derailed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"An absolute delight to meet you, @tim_cook! Glad to exchange views on diverse topics and highlight the tech-powered transformations taking place in India," Prime Minister also tweeted on meeting Apple CEO.
The new stores in Mumbai and Delhi come at a time when Apple is trying to deepen its retail push in India, the world's second-largest smartphone market. India is also home to factories that produce 5 per cent of total iPhones as Apple diversifies its supply chains away from China.
The iPhone is still an aspirational product in the price-sensitive Indian market, where more than 95 per cent of smartphones run on rival Google's Android platform.
Cook had met Modi on the previous visit in 2016 as well.
Apple is wooing the Indian market with a promise to double the employment base in the country through its vendors to around 2 lakh gradually. For this, Cook sought government support to widen its components supplier base in India, a government source said.
The source said that Cook has long-term policy stability to foster investments in the country. "He has also asked support to skill Indian manpower to suit the company's requirement," the source said.
The government has offered Apple to define the skill set and it will support them in facilitating it as it is doing for creating skills at Gatishakti Vishwavidyalaya in collaboration with Boeing and Siemens.
Apple commands a small base of just 4 per cent of India's nearly 700 million smartphone users, which is currently dominated by cheaper local brands, as well as Chinese and South Korean manufacturers.
In contrast, Apple did USD 74 billion in sales in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan in fiscal 2022. That's about 18 per cent of its total revenue during the period.
Besides the market, Apple is also eyeing India as its manufacturing base as it diversifies away from China, with whom the US has had trade tensions.
Its primary manufacturing partner, Foxconn, which oversees a large portion of the assembly of new iPhones in China, is building a USD 700 million plant for iPhone parts in Bengaluru.