News & Analysis

Apple Eyes a Broader India Focus

The global tech giant seems to be shifting towards making India a separate sales region, given the consistent spike in the usage of its gadgets


Apple’s growing love story with India seems to be getting stronger. From not launching its devices in this market to now doing a simultaneous launch, Tim Cook has brought forth a shift that has also seen the company offshoring a quarter of its total iPhone production to the country, using it as a export hub in the region and beyond. 

Of course, the Modi government too is happy from this turnaround as it brought over 150,000 new jobs to the country and is likely to contribute $9 billion in exports during fiscal 2023. Now, this association seems set to become stronger as Apple seems to be making India its own sales region, and not part of a larger group as it is now. 

India head to become Europe head

A report by Bloomberg says the company is reshuffling its global management teams to put India under bigger archlights. This would provide India with increased prominence inside the tech giant’s inner circle. Whether this increased influence would result in any India-specific features or products is for time to tell, though knowing Apple, such a move is unlikely. 

Coming to the actual changes, Hughes Asseman, who was VP in charge of India, the Middle East, Mediterranean, East Europe and Africa recently retired. Typically, Apple would have announced a replacement from their headquarters. However, this time, they’ve promoted Ashish Chowdhary, who reported to Asseman as India Head. 

What’s important to note here is that Chowdhary would be reporting directly to Michael Fenger, who is Apple’s head of product sales. This shift is perceived to be a direct result of the last quarter revenue numbers where India’s share was a record even while total sales had slipped by 5% during the period. 

Retail growth and production expansion

Apple has plans to expand its retail presence in India, after having gone live with its digital store to serve Indian customers. Prior to this, its products were available through digital platforms such as Amazon. The company’s first retail store is scheduled for launch in 2023, having been first announced during the first stage of the pandemic itself. 

At the company’s last earnings call, Tim Cook said Apple was adding emphasis to the India market compared to the current state of where it stands in the country vis-a-vis its position in China now. “We are, in essence, taking what we learned in China years ago and how we scale to China and bringing that to bear,” he had said. 

From Apple’s point of view China generates close to $75 billion of revenues for Apple, making it the largest sales region after the Americas and Europe. Another strategic shift for the company has come in the product development sphere as several major suppliers have shifted base from China in recent times. 

The company has also nudged its contract manufacturers led by Foxconn and including Pegatron and Wistron to increase its presence in India with Hon Hai Precision Industry, the owners of the Foxconn brand even seeking permissions now to set up its very own semiconductor manufacturing unit in the country. 

Given these changes, it is no surprise that Apple is changing its management structure so that the key focus around product development and increasing sales go hand-in-hand. However, company sources say Apple will continue to include India as part of its Europe category, which also comprises the Middle East and Africa, while reporting quarterly results. 

Asseman’s exit was on the cards

As for Asseman’s exit, this is part of a series of such departures over the past few months that include the company’s VP in charge of subscription services, the cloud chief who is rumored to be leaving and the top executives in charge of industrial design, procurement, hardware engineering, privacy, information systems and online stores. 

Asseman had a two-decade stint with Apple and worked out of its offices in London and Cupertino. He began as a marketing manager  for Macbooks and iPods and later led teams for these devices before taking over as the iPhone sales head for Europe and other global markets in 2011. He started his latest position in 2015 and retired at the end of last year. 

Meanwhile, Taiwanese giant Foxconn is proposing to set up a semiconductor plant without any government incentives. The company had discussions with the state governments of Karnataka and Telangana for this purpose as the company requires semiconductor chips worth $40 billion for its own consumption.  

Foxconn boasts of $1 trillion investible surpluses and is aiming to manufacture mechanical and precision machinery, electric vehicles, integrated chips design and semiconductors in India. The company has already signed agreements to work with the two states and has thereafter announced a new iPhone manufacturing plant in Telangana. 

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