New Delhi: Admitting that his business in India was flat in the fiscal fourth quarter and weak currency trends worry him although these are just “speed bumps”, Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated that he is a big believer in the country and can’t wait for the future there.
“The emerging markets that we’re seeing pressure in are markets like Turkey, India, Brazil, Russia. These are markets where currencies have weakened over the recent period.
“To give you a perspective in some detail, our business in India in Q4 was flat. Obviously, we would like to see that be a huge growth,” Cook said during an earnings call with analysts after announcing Apple’s Q4 2018 results late Thursday.
Cook noted that the currency weakness has been part of their challenge in India.
“But I view these as speed bumps along a very long journey, though. And the long term I think is very, very strong there,” said the Apple CEO who spoke about the Indian market at great length after quite some time.
Cook said he has had really great productive discussions with the Indian government.
“We’ve had really great productive discussions with the Indian government, and I fully expect that at some point, they will agree to allow us to bring our stores into the country,” Cook responded to a question.
“We’ve been in discussions with them, and the discussions are going quite well,” he added.
The iPhone maker is seeking tax relief and other incentives from the government to begin assembling more handsets in the country and its proposal to set up a manufacturing unit is reportedly being evaluated.
According to Cook, “there are import duties in some or most of the product categories that we’re in and in some cases, they compound.
“This is an area that we’re giving lots of feedback on. We do manufacture some of the entry iPhones in India, and that project has gone well,” Cook told analysts.
Apple is currently assembling iPhone 6S in India with its partner Wistron.
“I am a big believer in India. I am very bullish on the country and the people and our ability to do well there,” Cook added.
According to industry experts, India is the fastest growing among the top 20 smartphone markets globally, with a large untapped user base potential in Tier 5 and 6 cities and beyond.
The current smartphone user base in India is around 450 million which is set to grow by leaps and bounds.
Cook is aware of the tremendous growth opportunity in India.
“There’s a huge number of people that will move into the middle class. The government has really focused on reform in a major way and made some very bold moves.
“I applaud them for doing that and I can’t wait for the future there,” Cook said.
Cook, however, said the sales of Mac and iPads have been very strong in India.
“We were pleased with Mac momentum in emerging markets, with strong growth in Latin America, in India, the Middle East and Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe,” the Apple CEO said.
Mac has an active install base of over 100 million units globally.
Apple sold 9.7 million iPads during the quarter.
“We generated iPad growth in a number of key regions around the world, including Latin America, Europe, Japan, India, and South Asia,” Cook announced.
Apple ended the quarter with $237.1 billion in cash plus marketable securities.