New Delhi, May 18: US tech giant Apple Inc on Wednesday announced setting up a software laboratory in Bengaluru to support startups and developers working on the company's iOS platform as its Chief Executive Tim Cook began his maiden visit to India.
Cook, who arrived in Mumbai late last night, is also slated to unveil a development center for maps in Hyderabad tomorrow. His four-day tour of India may also feature a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.
The app design and development accelerator or laboratory will open in Bengaluru in early 2017, Apple said in a statement. The company, however, did not disclose the investments.
Apple, which is facing slagging sales in the US and Europe, is pushing for opening retail stores in India. Apple, which has a network of 33 stores in China, is seeking to import and sell refurbished iPhones in India but this proposal is facing opposition from authorities.
Cook had in a recent earnings call stated that he viewed "India as where China was maybe seven to 10 years ago from that point of view, and I think there's a really great opportunity there."
India is world's third-largest smartphone market with over 100 million smartphones sold last year. This is projected to grow 25 per cent this year. But Apple's iPhone has only a 2 per cent market share. "The company will establish a design and development accelerator in Bengaluru, the home of India's startup scene.
Tens of thousands of developers in India make apps for iOS (foundation for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch). This initiative will provide additional, specialised support for them," Apple said in a statement.
Apple's team will work with developers on best practices, help them hone their skills and transform the design, quality and performance of their apps on the iOS platform, it added. "India is home to one of the most vibrant and entrepreneurial iOS development communities in the world.
With the opening of this new facility in Bengaluru, we are giving developers access to tools which will help them create innovative apps for customers around the world," Cook said. Each week, Apple experts will lead briefings and provide one-on-one app reviews for developers.
The facility will also provide support and guidance on Swift, Apple's intuitive programming language created to build apps for iOS, Mac, Apple TV and Apple Watch. As part of his visit, Cook is expected to meet government officials and key industry executives from telecom firms to discuss matters like manufacturing and expansion of network in the country.
The Apple CEO's visit comes at a time when the US-based firm is focusing on new growth markets like India after posting its first-ever decline in iPhone sales.
In an interview earlier this month, Cook had said Apple sees a "huge market potential" for its products in India and that it is "really putting energy" in the country. Apple has also sent in a proposal to the Indian government for selling refurbished phones in India. However, no official call has been taken.