Mumbai: Apple Inc. chief executive officer (CEO) Tim Cook began his first official visit to India by spending a day in the commercial capital of Mumbai and announcing an accelerator programme which will be based in Bengaluru.
Cook started the day with a visit to Mumbai’s Shree Siddhivinayak Temple, confirmed a person aware of the visit, who declined to be named. On Wednesday morning, The Indian Express reported that Cook had visited the temple, where he met Anant Ambani, son of Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani.
Through the course of the day, Cook met Tata group executives including chairman Cyrus Mistry, said a second person familiar with the meetings, on condition of anonymity. The agenda for the meeting was not known. He also met with the top brass at ICICI Bank Ltd at the lender’s headquarters in the Bandra Kurla Complex, said a third person familiar with the meetings, also requesting anonymity.
Cook did not meet Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was travelling, but may meet him later in the week, said the first person cited earlier. Later in the week, he may also meet Mukesh Ambani, who was also travelling on Wednesday.
Cook’s first visit to India since taking over as CEO in 2011, which follows a trip to China, has been shrouded in secrecy with very little information about his plans. On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that Cook will unveil a development centre for digital maps in Hyderabad and introduce an accelerator programme for iOS developers in Bengaluru.
Apple is pushing to open its first retail stores in the country, though it’s not clear whether any discussions will be part of the CEO’s agenda on this trip.
Apple confirmed part of the report on Wednesday when it announced that it will establish a first-of-its-kind “iOS design and development accelerator” in Bengaluru. The proposed accelerator, the company added, is expected to open in early 2017.
The initiative, Apple said in a media statement, was “to support engineering talent and accelerate growth in India’s iOS developer community”.
“Apple’s team will work to inspire and instruct developers on best practices, help them hone their skills and transform the design, quality and performance of their apps on the iOS platform,” the company’s statement added.
“India is home to one of the most vibrant and entrepreneurial iOS development communities in the world,” Cook was quoted as saying. “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.”
The initiative will see Apple experts leading briefings “and provide one-on-one app reviews for developers”. The facility, the statement added, will also provide support and guidance on Apple’s programming language, Swift, which is used by developers to build apps for all its platforms.
“This is a huge vote of confidence in India’s developer community and a tremendous opportunity to gain world-class design and development expertise,” Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal was quoted as saying in the statement. “Apple’s support will help drive growth and accelerate progress among the country’s vast talent pool.”
Snapdeal co-founder and CEO Kunal Bahl added, “We have worked closely with Apple to transform the Snapdeal app and offer our users the best possible experience. Apple’s expert guidance on the interface and user experience has helped us build an app that our consumers love. We are thrilled Apple will have a local presence which will amplify our efforts to develop more high-quality apps for our digital commerce ecosystem.”
IT industry lobby group Nasscom also welcomed Apple’s proposed Bengaluru investment.
“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,” Nasscom president R. Chandrashekhar said in a statement. “The skills and training they gain through this effort will significantly improve their app design and help them reach a broader market. Initiatives like these move the country forward in our efforts to advance a growth-led and sustainable technology sector.”