Apple asks Foxconn to explore making iPhones in India

NEW DELHI: Will Apple make iPhones in India? That’s what Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to have asked Tim Cook when they met earlier this year, but the Apple chief executive officer seemed to be reluctant to make a commitment.

He might be reconsidering. Apple has sounded out one of its largest contract manufacturing partners, Foxconn Technology Group, to look at the possibility of making the iPhone in India in the next two to three years, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

“There’s definitely interest,” said one of the two cited above. “When Tim Cook was here, the government raised the issue of making in India. It is after that that Apple started thinking of doing something in India which is long term.”

Move to make devices cheaper
Local manufacturing would allow Apple to bring products to market quicker besides making them cheaper for Indian consumers and turning the country into an export hub, analysts said, while adding that this would require creating an elaborate and complex supply chain.

On his first visit to the country in May, Cook and Modi are said to have discussed manufacturing and retailing in India. Cook announced the setting up of an app development unit in Bengaluru and opened a development centre for Apple Maps in Hyderabad, with an investment of $25 million.

Apple wants to open wholly-owned stores in the country, which Cook sees as integral to winning customers by setting new service standards.

The second person aware of the details said Foxconn may take two to three years to begin making iPhones locally, the first step being assembling them in India. No timeline has been discussed, he said.

Apple, expected to launch the iPhone 7 on September 7, declined to comment, as did Foxconn. “Foxconn follows a strict company policy of not commenting on any matters related to current or potential customers, or any of their products,” a Foxconn Technology Group spokesperson said in response to ET’s query.

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