Made-in-India iPhones are coming.
Ending months of breathless speculation, the Karnataka government has confirmed that Apple will begin assembling iPhones at a new facility in the southern Indian state. “Apple’s iPhones will be made in Bangalore and all devices will be targeted at the domestic market,” said Priyank Kharge, Karnataka’s information technology minister, according to Bloomberg.
Quartz has written to Apple seeking comments, but hasn’t heard back yet.
The Cupertino-based technology giant could initially start assembling the devices at a plant owned by Wistron Corp, a Taiwanese smartphone component maker and Apple partner, Reuters reported. Earlier this year, Wistron reportedly sought permission from the Karnataka government to expand its facility on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
With sales slowing down in key markets, including in the West and China, India is turning out to be an increasingly important growth region for Apple. During October-December 2016, for instance, the company reported an “all-time record revenue” from India, the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market.
“We are in discussions on a number of things (in India), including retail stores,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in post-earnings call on Jan. 31, “and fully intend to invest significantly in the country and believe it’s a great place to be.”
Apple has been looking to bolster its presence in India for some time now, with company executives engaging the government at the highest levels. In 2016, Cook himself had made a trip to India and met with prime minister Narendra Modi.
To show for all its efforts, Apple now has the regulatory green-light to set up direct stores, after the government tweaked foreign direct investment rules in June 2016. The company hasn’t yet announced where or when these stores will come up.
But the bigger challenge for Apple seems to have been negotiating a list of concessions from the government before setting up an assembling facility in India. Although the Modi government keenly wants Apple to set up shop, Reuters reported earlier this year, it wasn’t entirely willing to bend the rules for one company.