After months of reports that suggested Apple was gearing up to begin iPhone production within India as a way to boost its presence in the country, a report by The Wall Street Journal today has confirmed the first ever iPhone assembly trial run completed in India earlier this month. As it was previously reported, assembler Wistron handled the iPhone production trial run, specifically focusing on the assembling of iPhone SE devices.
Apple further confirmed that it has begun the initial production of an unspecified “small number” of iPhone SE devices in its Bangalore plant, and plans to begin the first official shipment of Indian-created iPhones to local customers as soon as this month. Retail stores are expected to get their first shipment of iPhone SE handsets “as early as this week or next,” according to people familiar with the manufacturing plans.
In February, Karnataka’s Minister of State for IT Priyank Kharge had said that Apple plans to make its iPhones in Bengaluru.
“An Apple team discussed with us its proposal to set up a plant in Bengaluru to make iPhones for the Indian and global markets,” said Kharge.
The Apple team, led by iPhone Operations Vice-President Priya Balasubramaniam, Government Affairs Head Ali Khanafer, iPhone Operations Director Dheeraj Chugh and Country Counsel Priyesh Povanna had discussed the proposals with the state officials in the presence of the minister.
According to latest data from consumer knowledge and insights firm Kantar Worldpanel, India is a key country for Apple moving forward.
“Apple accounted for 3 percent of sales in the most recent period but has recently made several strategic moves in India, including teaming up with Reliance Jio to offer free 4G service for one year to purchasers of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Apple is also planning to manufacture iPhones in India in the near future to deflect some of the high import taxes that make iPhones inaccessible to many Indian buyers,” the report stated.
Apple iPhone 5S has also emerged as the top premium smartphone in seven states while other versions of iOS-driven devices occupy the top five premium spots in non-metro states.
Apple has been eyeing India for a greater pie of its growing smartphones market.
According to the latest data from IDC, Samsung leads in the market with a 28.1 percent share, followed by Chinese smartphone makers Xiaomi, Vivo, Lenovo and Oppo.