Apple is moving to a different part of Asia for its iPhone assembly needs. On Wednesday, the tech giant confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that it had completed a trial of its first-ever iPhones to be assembled in India. And as the industry at large continues to explore new ways to break into the fast-growing South Asian market, Apple’s latest move could be a crucial step forward.
In a statement, Apple noted that initial production of a “small number of iPhone SE handset,” the company’s cheapest smartphone offering, has begun in Bangalore. These Indian-made units are expected to begin shipping to domestic customers later in May. In fact, initial shipments could arrive in stores as early as this week.
While iPhones have traditionally been manufactured in China and Taiwan, sales of the handset haven’t been quite as robust lately, and now, Apple is looking for new markets to conquer. Indeed, government officials in India have noted that Apple has already asked for incentives to manufacture its products in the country. And if Apple pays less, it seems to follow that customers in India would pay less, too.
As it stands, even the least expensive iPhone (the SE), is considerably more expensive at $250 than the average smartphone price in India, which research firm IDC estimates to be around $150. But if Apple can compete in or at least near that ballpark, it may have a shot at winning customers over.
“Apple is likely to sell a good number of iPhones if it prices them so aggressively,” said Faisal Kawoosa, principal analyst at research firm CMR. “In three to five years, these users will be able to graduate to a standard-priced iPhone.”
But pricing aside, the Indian government is certainly pleased to have Apple in the country.
“Apple coming to India is a [matter of] pride for us,” said R.V. Deshpande, Karnataka’s commerce and industries minister, referring to the SE production. “We are trying to get them in Karnataka as it’s the right place with all the required ecosystem.”