Apple’s efforts to penetrate the vast Indian market have so far garnered mixed results. While some of the company’s largest iPhone-assembly partners (Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron) have successfully been building models like the iPhone 6s and iPhone SE for over a year now, recent reports appear to paint a more dismal picture of Apple’s status in the country.
We know the iPhone-maker doesn’t just go down without a fight, though, and according to an exclusive report published this week by Reuters, Apple and its assembly partners are planning for further expansion of iPhone development in India — to include high-end flagships like the X and XS Max — starting as early as 2019.
“Apple Inc will begin assembling its top-end iPhones in India through the local unit of Foxconn as early as 2019,” Reuters notes, adding that “the most expensive models, such as devices in the flagship iPhone X family,” will be built there, a source with knowledge of the plans said, noting that Apple’s business in India could reach “a new level” in coming years.
According to the report, high-end iPhone development is slated to commence at Foxconn’s Sriperumbudur plant, which is located in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The iPhone assembler is reportedly planning to invest as much as 25 billion Indian rupees ($356 million) to expand the plant and accommodate additional iPhone production, said Tamil Nadu’s Industries Minister, M C Sampath.
The investment is expected to create as many as 25,000 new Indian jobs, he added.
While Apple’s iPhone development expansion in India might be a covert effort implemented to help breathe new life into the tech-giant’s once-promising business strategy in the country, Apple’s move could ultimately help both itself and Foxconn “limit the impact” of a potential trade war between the United States and China.
An Apple spokeswoman, Trudy Muller, who was pressed for comment by Reuters, declined — while a Foxconn spokesperson said in a statement that the firm does not comment on “matters related to current or potential customers, or any of their products.”
The Lows and Highs of iPhone in India
Worth pointing out, most of all, is that up until now, Apple’s strategy in India has focused exclusively on building models older than the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which, according to market research firm, Counterpoint, accounted for more than half of Apple’s sales in India this year.
Also worth pointing out is that Apple’s no longer building its one-year-old iPhone X, and while it’s possible that Foxconn, at Apple’s request, could move to build new lower-cost iPhone X models for the Indian and other developing markets (since most iPhones sold in the country are on the lower end of the pricing spectrum). And so it’ll be interesting to see how this new strategy unfolds in the coming months.
Additional details concerning the nature and extent of Apple and Foxconn’s agreement remain under wraps (for now), and could always change at any time.