NEW DELHI: Apple is slated to build its first technology development centre outside the United States in India’s Hyderabad city in Telangana state in the latter half of this year, Times of India reported.
An initial investment of $25 million will be made in the structure, which will likely employ about 4,500 people, a senior Telangana state government official said.
“A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed after some approvals come… They’re [Apple] waiting for the SEZ approval [for the area] to come, which is expected to be given in a couple of days,” said Telangana IT Secretary Jayesh Ranjan.
The centre will occupy 250,000 square feet in Hyderabad’s IT corridor in the Tishman Speyer WaveRock facility.
The facility is expected to open in June and is expected to be fully operational by the end of this year, according to a report on the Hindustantimes website.
India has recently been touted as a ‘bright spot’ in the market for iPhones, as Apple forecast its first revenue drop in 13 years on the back of cooling China sales.
Sales of the company’s flagship smartphone climbed 76 per cent in India from the year-ago quarter, Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri earlier said.
According to data compiled by Counterpoint Technology Research, Apple sold an estimated 800,000 iPhones in India in the fourth-quarter, its highest ever amount but one that is a fraction of the 28 million smartphones sold during that period.
But with nearly 70pc of smartphones selling for less than $150 in India, Apple’s high-end phones remain out of reach of most consumers.
The basic iPhone 6S sells at just under $700 in India, or nearly half the average annual wage.
As in China, Apple products are a coveted status symbol in India, a market that analysts say is likely to overtake the United States (US) next year to become the world’s second largest smartphone market.
“In many ways India is very similar to what China was a few years ago, but the middle class here is still very small and it can be two to three years before Apple gets a similar level of success in India,” Counterpoint Technology Research analyst Tarun Pathak said in January.
Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier this year struck a more optimistic note, saying the company was “increasingly putting more energy” into India, citing a largely youthful population with rising disposable income as more people join the workforce.
With faster 4G coverage expanding, Apple has already asked Indian government for a license to set up its own retail stores just as the market seems to be turning in its favour.