Apple Partner Wistron Gets Initial Approval for New iPhone Factory in India

Apple's main iPhone manufacturer in India has won initial approval to build a new smartphone factory in the country.

The Economic Times reports that India's IT ministry has given assent to Taiwan-based Wistron to construct the new factory, which now just needs approval from the Indian Cabinet to go ahead. Wistron will make cheaper iPhones in the new plant, reportedly beginning with the iPhone 8.


Foxconn meanwhile is poised to build Apple's latest high-end smartphones, including the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, once its application gets similar approval by the relevant government departments. Foxconn sees production plants in India as a way to diversify its supply chain away from China, where most of the Taiwan-based firm's facilities currently reside.

Apple has been pushing to set up an iPhone manufacturing hub in India ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi began promoting his "Made in India" initiative, which requires that 30 percent of products sold by foreign companies be manufactured or produced within the country.

India is the world's second largest smartphone market, but just one in four Indians are said to own a smartphone, providing Apple with an opportunity to sell iPhones to millions of new customers in the country. However Apple is said to have had little success so far in what is a very price-sensitive market, with more than 75 percent of the smartphones sold in the country costing less than $250, according to one report.

Apple revamped its India strategy in 2018 to include better and longer-lasting retail deals with higher sales targets, the debut of official Apple retail stores in India, and an overhaul of the company's relationship with independent retailers.

Tag: India

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iPhone Assembler Foxconn Looks to India to Diversify Supply Chain Away From China

A larger portion of the world's iPhones could one day be manufactured in India, if a new report by the Wall Street Journal proves accurate.

According to Tuesday's report, Apple's main iPhone assembler Foxconn is considering building production plants in India as a way to diversify its supply chain away from China, where most of the Taiwan-based firm's facilities currently reside.

Executives at Foxconn, a contract manufacturer that assembles a large portion of the world’s iPhones in China, are studying whether to include an India project in budget plans, one of the people said. Senior executives, possibly including Chairman Terry Gou, plan to visit India after next month’s Lunar New Year to discuss plans, the people familiar said.
Apple currently manufactures most of its iPhones through Foxconn, but the latter's potential new project in India points to Apple's vulnerability to rising U.S.-China tensions over trade and technology. Both Apple and Foxconn declined to comment on today's report, but it is thought that manufacturing iPhones in India could help Apple lower prices by allowing it to avoid a tariff that adds 20 percent to devices imported from China.

Foxconn already has plants in India, and late last year it was reported that the firm would invest around $356 million to expand its facilities there to begin assembling Apple's high-end iPhones. Wistron assembles iPhone SE and iPhone 6s models in India exclusively for the Indian market, but the December report didn't say whether the high-end iPhones assembled by Foxconn would be sold in the country or elsewhere in the world.

Early last year, Apple revamped its India strategy in order to stay afloat in the country's smartphone market. This strategy includes better and longer-lasting retail deals with higher sales targets, the debut of official Apple retail stores in India, and an overhaul of the company's relationship with independent retailers.

Just one in four Indians own a smartphone, providing Apple with an opportunity to sell iPhones to millions of new customers in the country. However, Apple is said to have seen little success so far, with Apple's market share in the country dropping to about one percent in 2018, from about two percent the previous year.

Tags: Foxconn, India

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Samsung Prioritizes India With Launch of Galaxy M Series With Infinity-V Display

Later this month, Samsung will launch its new mid-range Galaxy M series. These are the first smartphones to feature the company's Infinity-V display, so-called due to its centered teardrop-shaped notch housing the front-facing camera.

Samsung has teased the Galaxy M Series launch on Amazon India

In another first for Samsung, the devices will be launching exclusively in India on January 28 ahead of a global release, in an attempt to regain ground lost to Chinese rivals like Xiaomi in the world's second biggest smartphone market.

The popularity of Xiaomi's budget Redmi smartphones among younger consumers is believed to be a factor in declining sales of Samsung devices in the country. According to data from Counterpoint, Xiaomi overtook Samsung's share of the Indian market in Q4 2017, and maintained a five point lead over the company as recently as Q3 2018.

The Galaxy M series is being seen as a direct counter to Xiaomi Redmi, and the Korean company has indicated as much. "The M series has been built around and incepted around Indian millennial consumers," said Samsung India's senior vice president Asim Warsi, speaking to Reuters.


The line-up is thought to include three models, the M10, M20, and M30, which feature one, two, and three rear-facing cameras, respectively, a USB-C port, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and a headphone jack. The M-series phones, which Samsung plans to sell only through its website and Amazon India, also promise fast charging, long battery life, and high performance, all for a price of between $140 and $280.

With smartphone sales flattening in saturated markets like the United States, Apple is said to have turned to India for new growth, but with little success so far, according to a report published late last year.

Just one in four Indians are said to own a smartphone, providing Apple with an opportunity to sell iPhones to millions of new customers in the country. According to the report, Apple's problem is that India is a very price-sensitive market, with more than 75 percent of the smartphones sold in the country costing less than $250.


However, so far Apple has been reluctant to change its traditional business model for selling iPhones, which prioritizes a limited number of coveted products sold at high prices. In that sense, by offering a range of handsets with affordable high-end options, Samsung appears to be attempting a level of regional flexibility that Apple has yet to chance.

Tags: Samsung, India

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Apple Maps Gains Turn-by-Turn Directions for Entire Indian Subcontinent

Apple has added turn-by-turn navigation to Apple Maps for the entire Indian subcontinent. The app now offers the detailed directions for driving and walking, with options to book a ride through Uber and Ola also showing within the app.


Still missing for users in India is public transit information, lane guidance and speed limits, although given that the addition of turn-by-turn directions is part of an ongoing improvement to Apple Maps, these are likely to follow.

Rival Google Maps has been the de facto navigation app in India for some time, thanks to its driving, walking, and public transport modes. Users of the app have also benefited from the development of region-specific special features like "two-wheeler" mode which provides motorcycle and scooter users with shortcuts across cities.

By contrast, Apple's navigational contributions in the country have come in for some criticism, with some users calling out the app's sparse data for a number of cities and towns, including missing landmarks.

The introduction of turn-by-turn directions comes nearly three years after Apple announced the opening of a Hyderabad-based development center focused on improving Apple Maps in India.

(Thanks, Ram!)


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Apple Partnering With Foxconn to Build High-End iPhone Models in India Next Year

Following the iPhone SE and iPhone 6s, Apple will begin assembling its high-end iPhones in India sometime in 2019, according to a new report today by Reuters. Instead of Wistron, Foxconn will build the high-end iPhones, and these models are said to be the most expensive flagship devices offered by Apple, including the iPhone X family.


Local sources state that the work will occur in Foxconn's plant in Sriperumbudur town in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Foxconn will reportedly invest 25 billion Indian rupees ($356 million) to expand the plant, part of which will be focused on the production of the flagship iPhones in India. The investment is estimated to create as many as 25,000 jobs. The report doesn't say whether these high-end iPhones will be sold in the Indian market or elsewhere in the world.

Earlier this year, Apple revamped its India strategy in order to stay afloat in the country's smartphone market. This revamped strategy includes better and longer-lasting retail deals with higher sales targets, the debut of official Apple retail stores in India, an overhaul of the company's relationship with independent retailers, and improving apps and services for local users. This is said to include a new version of Apple Maps aimed at Indian users to launch by 2020.

The expansion of high-end iPhone assembly outside of China could also be an attempt by Apple to "limit the impact" of a trade war between the United States and China:
For Apple, widening assembly beyond China is critical to mitigate the risks of the Sino-U.S. trade war. Foxconn, the world’s biggest electronics contract manufacturer, is considering setting up a factory in Vietnam, Vietnamese state media reported this month. If that goes ahead, it will be one of the biggest recent steps by a major company to secure an additional production base outside of China.

Foxconn has previously admitted the China-U.S. trade spat was its biggest challenge and that its senior executives were making plans to counter the impact. “Widening iPhone manufacturing in India through Foxconn will allow Apple to hedge the risk of any new U.S. trade policies,” said Navkendar Singh, an associate research director at International Data Corporation.
Still, the company has struggled in the country due to the high price of its iPhones. Just last week, The Wall Street Journal published a report about Apple's iPhone sales in India. According to the paper, Apple has had "little success so far" in terms of growth in India, due to the price-sensitive market that has more than 75 percent of smartphones priced below $250.

Tags: Foxconn, India

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Apple Has Encountered ‘Little Success’ Growing in India Due to High Prices of iPhones

The Wall Street Journal has published an in-depth look at Apple's efforts to grow its sales in India, the "world's biggest untapped tech market." With smartphone sales flattening in saturated markets like the United States, Apple is said to have turned to India for new growth, but with "little success so far."


The report claims that just one in four Indians own a smartphone, providing Apple with an opportunity to sell iPhones to millions of new customers in the country. The issue is that India is a very price-sensitive market, with more than 75 percent of the smartphones sold in the country costing "less than $250."

Apple-authorized reseller Flipkart continues to sell the iPhone SE in India for around $250, but other iPhone models are priced between the equivalent of $325 and $1,950 in the country, well above the budgets of many Indian customers.

The Wall Street Journal explains:
At the heart of the issue is Apple's reluctance to change its traditional business model for selling the iPhone. Rather than make a range of handsets, it has prioritized a limited number of coveted products, sold at high prices—a strategy that revived the company after near bankruptcy in 1997 and helped make it the first U.S. public company to reach a $1 trillion valuation.
The report claims the number of iPhones shipped in India has fallen 40 percent so far this year compared with 2017, and Apple's market share in the country has dropped to about one percent from about two percent, citing research firm Canalys.

Apple created a five-year plan to increase Apple's sales in India to $5 billion by 2020, but the iPhone maker posted revenues of $1.8 billion in the country in its most recent fiscal year, according to the report, suggesting that the company is unlikely to meet its target without explosive growth within the next fiscal year.

Government policies haven't helped the situation. Apple has faced difficulties in openings its first retail store in India, for example, as the country requires single-brand, majority-foreign-owned retailers to source at least 30 percent of their manufacturing materials from India-based suppliers.

As one would expect, though, Apple CEO Tim Cook remains optimistic about Apple's future in India based on his recent comments.

"We've had really great productive discussions with the Indian government and I fully expect that at some point they will agree to allow us to bring our stores into the country," Cook said on Apple's earnings call last month. "We've been in discussions with them and the discussions are going quite well."

"I am a big believer in India," he added. "I am very bullish on the country, and the people, and our ability to do well there."

Tag: India

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Apple Shelves Plans for Apple Pay in India After Facing Regulatory Issues and Technical Hurdles

Apple has temporarily halted plans to launch Apple Pay in India after facing troubles with regulators in the country and a few technical hurdles, according to The Economic Times. Specifically, Apple is said to be concerned about the Reserve Bank of India's recent data localization rule, which requires companies to store all of their payments data for local users only in India.


Because of this rule, numerous companies -- including Apple, Amazon, PayPal, WhatsApp, Visa, and MasterCard -- have faced uncertainties regarding the rollout of their respective mobile wallets in India. Apple is said to have gone so far as to meet with a few leading banks and the National Payments Corporation of India, which manages the country's Unified Payments Interface platform.

In addition, Apple has reportedly encountered a few technical and design hurdles surrounding Apple Pay's India launch, relating to the inclusion of Touch ID as a mode of authentication for payments in India on supported iPhones. The NPCI did not agree to this plan, because the country's UPI is based on a six or four-digit passcode to authenticate transactions and does not have support for smartphone-based biometric security features yet.

Following these hurdles, plans as of now have been shelved, according to two people familiar with the matter.
“Apple will not launch payments in India yet. They are waiting to see how the regulatory landscape shapes up,” one of them said.
The Apple Pay news is just the latest in a string of negative reports regarding Apple's attempt at expansion in India, one month after the company faced a potential legal threat over noncompliance with the Indian government's anti-spam iPhone app. Otherwise, the company has had trouble in the country due to ever-increasing taxes on imported smartphones, rising iPhone prices because of such taxes, and user frustration with poor Apple services like Apple Maps.

In an attempt to finally rectify these issues, Bloomberg in August reported that Apple is planning a completely revamped India strategy led by Apple executive Michel Coulomb. This includes better and longer-lasting retail deals with higher sales targets, the opening of official Apple retail stores in India, "overhauling" the company's relationship with independent retailers, and improving apps and services "aimed more closely at Indians."

Apple Pay was never mentioned as part of that strategy, so it doesn't appear that users in India will have a chance to use the company's mobile wallet anytime soon. Otherwise, Apple Pay is available in over two dozen countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Switzerland, Hong Kong, France, Russia, China, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Taiwan, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, UAE, Brazil, Ukraine, Norway, and Poland.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tag: India

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Apple’s Revamped India Strategy Includes 5-6 ‘Flagship Premium Reseller’ Outlets in Major Cities

In an ongoing effort to boost sales in India, Apple is reportedly planning to upgrade its authorized reseller locations in five to six
"extremely prominent locations" in India's metropolitan cities. The stores are being referred to as "Flagship Apple Premium Reseller" outlets.

While not official Apple stores, the locations will each be "at least three times larger" than the current reseller stores, which average about 1,000-1,500 square feet (via The Economic Times).

According to three senior industry executives, Apple may go up to as much as 5,000 square feet for the improved reseller locations in an effort to build them as "anchor shops" in malls and high-traffic outdoor shopping areas.

Apple will reportedly start construction on the flagship outlets first in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai. Sometime after those locations, the company will then open outlets in Hyderabad and Pune. A specific grand opening window for these outlets was not given.
“With company-owned Apple Stores yet to take shape in the country, Apple wants some of the franchisee run outlets to up the experience game through this new format. This is part of Apple’s new India strategy to focus on selling on experience rather than discount,” he said.

Apple is even open to the idea of a couple of these flagship stores being as large as 5,000 square feet if a suitable location is available. “The key is getting the right location, which is not easy. A team from the company is identifying locations,” an executive said.
The outlets are part of Apple's revamped India strategy, which includes overhauling its relationship with independent retailers, long-lasting retail deals, and opening official Apple retail stores in the country. These official stores are said to open beginning in 2019 and eventually include locations in New Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai.

Apple's new strategy began when Michel Coulomb was hired to oversee the company's India growth at the end of 2017. Apple routinely struggles in the Indian market due to the higher prices of its smartphones in comparison to other manufacturers like Xiaomi, and other factors.

The other major aspect of the revamped strategy is Apple's services, which will be "aimed more closely at Indians" thanks to certain apps that will get major updates in the country, like a new Apple Maps coming by 2020. Earlier this year, Indian iPhone users discussed Apple's poor performance in this area and one user specifically called Apple Maps "a joke" in India.

While some services like Apple Music were favorably received, others like Siri were identified as low points for Indian customers, as the assistant "often struggles" with local accents and does not understand "many words of Indian origination" -- all pain points that Apple is hoping to address.

Tag: India

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Apple Faces Potential Legal Threat From Indian Regulator Over Noncompliance With Anti-Spam iPhone App

Just a few days after Bloomberg revealed Apple's revamped India strategy, including changes that the company hopes will boost its lackluster smartphone market share in the country, a report by Reuters today has pointed out another hurdle for Apple's India plan.

The new report concerns Apple's work with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) over the development of an anti-spam iPhone app, which dates back nearly two years. Indian users constantly have to deal with spam phone calls, leading to the government's decision to build its own smartphone app that would let users mark and report spam callers.


Reuters previously reported in March that work on the app was deadlocked as Apple continuously raised concerns over the privacy implications of allowing the app broad access to customers' calls and text logs. Following months of Apple pointing out privacy loopholes in the app -- which has been available on Android in India since 2016 -- TRAI last month threatened Apple by stating that its smartphones could be "derecognized" from the country's networks.

This means that while iPhones would still be available for purchase in India, users would not be able to connect to any supported cellular network and would lose many of the features that they likely purchased the iPhone for. TRAI's derecognition threat was specified in a letter sent to Indian telecom firms over the summer, notifying the firms that TRAI would give them six months notice to derecognize devices from their networks if the phones in question do not support the anti-spam app.

With that ticking clock looming for Apple, the company recently asked for the clause about derecognition to be removed:
“We look forward to working with TRAI to address the issue of unsolicited commercial communications, while simultaneously ensuring that we fully honor our commitment to protect the privacy and security of our users,” Apple’s head of public policy in India, Kulin Sanghvi, wrote in the letter which was seen by Reuters.
In response to Apple's own letter, TRAI chairman R.S. Sharma said that derecognition could not be "quashed or challenged" by writing a letter, and suggested the disagreement between the two could end up in court:
“The most appropriate way to challenge this is in court,” he said.
As of now, no legal action has yet been taken by either side. The drama over the anti-spam app is just one of numerous headaches for Apple in India, in the past few months including ever-increasing taxes on imported smartphones, rising iPhone prices because of such taxes, and user frustration with poor Apple services.

According to people familiar with the company's plans, its new strategy in India includes better and longer-lasting retail deals with higher sales targets, the opening of official Apple retail stores in India, "overhauling" the company's relationship with independent retailers, and improving apps and services "aimed more closely at Indians." The company is said to focus specifically on Apple Maps in the services area with a "revamped" version of the app coming to Indian users by 2020.

Tag: India

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Apple Plans Revamped India Strategy With Official Stores, Year-Long iPhone Deals, and Improved Apps

Apple's ongoing struggles in India have been scrutinized repeatedly over the past few years, and today a new report by Bloomberg has looked into Apple's plan to stay afloat in what's considered the world's "fastest-growing smartphone market."

In an effort to revamp the company's presence in India, Apple CEO Tim Cook is believed to be working behind-the-scenes to "remold Apple's failing India strategy," according to both current and former Apple employees. This plan was kicked off when Apple executive Michel Coulomb began overseeing the company's India strategy at the end of 2017.


According to the new report, this strategy includes better and longer-lasting retail deals with higher sales targets, the opening of official Apple retail stores in India, "overhauling" the company's relationship with independent retailers, and improving apps and services "aimed more closely at Indians." This last point particularly includes a "revamped" version of Apple Maps that is aimed to launch by 2020.

On the point of services, earlier this year Indian iPhone users discussed Apple's poor performance in this area and one user specifically called Apple Maps "a joke" in the country. While some services like Apple Music were favorably received, others like Siri were identified as low points for Indian customers, as the assistant "often struggles" with local accents and does not understand "many words of Indian origination."

For retail, the official Apple stores are said to open in 2019 and eventually include locations in New Delhi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai. While the Indian government's rules for foreign companies opening shops have previously prevented Apple from launching local stores, the company now builds some of its iPhone SE and iPhone 6s models in India, which is believed to help it meet India's rule requiring these companies to manufacture 30 percent of their products locally.
Because the government has made it tough for Apple to open its own retail stores in India, iPhone prices are less reliable than the company’s reputation for strict price controls would suggest. Indian wholesalers and online retailers often raise or lower their prices daily without giving a reason, leading shoppers to haggle or wait in hopes of a better deal, says Subhash Chandra, who runs a 510-store chain of gadget shops called Sangeetha Mobiles. Two leading retail chains say iPhone sales have fallen to one-third of their January level.
In the Indian market, Apple ranks 11th and accounts for just one percent of India's phone sales, selling fewer than one million iPhones during the first half of 2018. Comparatively, rival smartphone maker Xiaomi sold "more than 19 million" during that period, according to data gathered by Counterpoint Research.

As usual, much of the conversation surrounding Apple's disappointing performance in the country is due to its higher smartphone prices in comparison to the company's peers in India. Nagaraja B.C., the manager of a local smartphone store named Poorvika Mobile World, said that his average shopper's budget is "about 10,000 rupees," or $150.

Apple's cheapest model in the market, the locally-made iPhone SE, is nearly twice that price, leading many customers to opt for smartphones like the Xiaomi Redmi 5A at $100. As part of the new strategy, Apple is said to be in talks with retailers and banks to "offer holiday deals year round" to convince customers to purchase its smartphones.

Tag: India

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