Apple chief Tim Cook met Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of India’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel, and discussed matters like 4G roll out in the country and growth in the Indian telecom space. Other top leaders from Bharti Airtel including CEO of India and South Asia Gopal Vittal were also present in the meeting that lasted nearly a hour.
According to sources, Hike messenger founder and CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal was also present and he made a presentation to the head of the Cupertino-based company about the growth seen by the instant messaging app.
Hike competes with the likes of Facebook-owned WhatsApp, Line and Viber. They added discussions revolved around forging alliances to help the US-based firm expand its retail presence in the country. “It was a great meeting. Airtel and Apple go a long way back. Given the lead of Airtel in 4G, this relationship is going to grow stronger,” sources said.
Cook, who is on his maiden visit to India, has already met Vodafone India CEO Sunil Sood in Mumbai.
Besides, he has also met leaders from India Inc including ICICI Banks Chanda Kochhar, Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry and Tata Consultancy Services CEO N Chandrasekaran. He also had a chance meeting with Mukesh Ambanis younger son, Anant, when he visited Siddhivinayak temple earlier this week. Cook has said he believes it is “exactly the right time” to be in India as telecom firms roll out 4G high speed internet services.
Apple, which is seeing declining sales elsewhere in the world, is betting big on India for growth as sales here saw an impressive 56 per cent growth in January-March. Apple had forayed into the Indian market in 2008 in partnership with Bharti Airtel. In the following years, the US-based firm has expanded partnerships with players like Vodafone and distribution firms like Ingram Micro and Redington. In the US, iPhones are often carrier-locked to make them more affordable. However, in India that is not the case.
Analysts have attributed high cost of Apples devices to be a major deterrent to sales of iPhone that competes with Android-based smartphones. Apple is also pushing for introducing refurbished phones in the country that may help in making its smartphones more affordable to a larger audience. Cook, who is meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is expected to take up the issue as part of the discussions.