Apple Inc. is planning to start manufacturing its iPhone SE, the lower priced smartphone model at a plant of one of its contract manufacturers in Bengaluru a technology hub in southern India, said a source in the industry on Friday.
Apple’s manufacturing partner from Taiwan Wistron Corp is assembling a plant in southern India that will focus on only assembling Apple’s iPhone, another sources said earlier in February.
The move by Apple has come as it tries to boost its share in the fastest growing major market for smartphones in the world, where mobile handsets far less expensive than iPhones, are the dominant product.
It comes as well as sale growth for smartphones is tailing off in Asia’s biggest market of all, China.
To charge less, Apple has sought to set up a local production operation and has held talks with the federal government in India related to issues like tax concessions.
The source said that initial manufacturing of Apple’s iPhone SE was not contingent on Apple being awarded tax concessions.
A European newspaper early Friday said that Apple was planning to start with the assembly of between 300,000 and 400,000 handsets of its iPhone SE model in India.
The source said that those numbers would be lower to start.
The same source also said that it would not be known until later if other models of the iPhone would be assembled at the same plant in Bengaluru.
Apple shipped over 2.5 million of its iPhone into India in 2016, with one third just during the final quarter of 2016. It is estimated that 75% of the smartphones sold within India has been made locally.
During the fourth quarter, Apple was ranked No. 10 in the smartphone market for India but was leading the premium segment holding a market share of 62%.
Samsung Electronics Company and a number of other smartphone makers based in China such as Vivo and Xiaomi are the dominant smartphone makers in India where the overwhelming majority of handsets sold have prices that are less than 15,000 rupees or $225.
As a comparison, the iPhone SE which is an entry level model can be purchased on line in India at Amazon.com for just over 28,430 rupees which is equal to $424.