Information from a local state official in the Indian state of Karnataka has Apple moving to start assembling iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s models in Bangalore in as early as four to six week.
Apple has yet to confirm the details, but Taiwan-based Wistron Corp. is likely to start the assembly line within the next two months, and will add iPhone SE to the list a few weeks later.
While a state official told WSJ that “Almost all preparations have been done for launching Apple’s first phase project in Bangalore through Wistron,” Apple itself neither confirmed nor denied the fact, only saying: “We’ve been working hard to develop our operations in India. We appreciate the constructive and open dialogue we’ve had with government about further expanding our local operations.”
Meanwhile, Wistrom merely refused to comment on “rumor or speculation.”
If true, this could bring significant benefits to Apple in the Asia region. China sales are under pressure from local smartphone makers like Huawei, Vivo and Oppo, while Apple’s penetration in India is less-than-optimal because of its current pricing levels.
The official who provided this information did not wish to be named, but “works closely with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
A local assembly unit, which might eventually include manufacturing of certain components, will help reduce the overall production cost and let Apple compete in a lower price band without losing its premium appeal. That will certainly help, considering the fact that Apple’s smartphone market share in the Indian subcontinent is less than 5 percent.
Data from Counterpoint Research shows that the demand for smartphones in India is high, with 2016 showing 18% growth against a global 3%. Since smartphone penetration is still quite low, there’s ample potential for growth. However, the major demand comes in much lower price bands.
If Apple can bring down its pricing band a notch or two down, it will tremendously expand its sales potential in one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Analyst Faisal Kawoosa of research firm CMR claims that the company can knock off at least $100 once its import tariff comes down.
If the state official is right, we could see some price reductions on new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s models in India as soon as this year.
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