Apple, Inc. announced Wednesday it will open a development center for design and development of apps for its iOS mobile operating system in the Indian tech startup capital Bengaluru (also known as Bangalore). The company said it “will establish a Design and Development Accelerator in Bengaluru, the home of India’s startup scene” that will “support engineering talent and accelerate growth in India’s iOS developer community.”
In a statement announcing the new center, CEO Tim Cook said: “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’re giving developers access to tools which will help them create innovative apps for customers around the world.”
Cook is in India on his first official visit to the country as Apple CEO. He arrived Tuesday after wrapping up his visit to China, where Cook announced a $1 billion investment in local ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing.
“Apple’s investment in Bengaluru through its iOS Development Accelerator will have far-reaching effects for the area’s rapidly growing and highly talented developer community. The skills and training they gain through this effort will significantly improve their app design and help them reach a broader market,” R. Chandrashekhar, president of NASSCOM, a trade association of India’s information technology industry, said.
Cook is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this week. The two had previously met during Modi’s 2015 visit to Silicon Valley.
The world’s most profitable phone maker has been focusing on India as an increasingly important market. Earlier this year, Apple applied for permission to open its stores in the country, and according to reports, will open three stores in India by the end of 2017. The company also wanted to sell used, refurbished handsets in the South Asian country, but was denied permission by Indian officials, based on worries of electronics dumping.
Apple’s current market share among smartphone sales in India is only about 2 percent, its low sales largely blamed on its price in a market that is highly price-sensitive. Cook had previously blamed a lack of LTE coverage in the country for meager sales, but is now said to be actively exploring Modi’s suggestion of manufacturing the phones in India to lower costs.