Apple CEO Tim Cook voiced optimism that the Indian government will at some point agree to allow the technology giant to bring in its stores as he lauded the country’s bold reforms, saying he is a “big believer” and “very bullish” on India.
Cook was responding to a question on whether Apple is at a disadvantage in India, as compared to other markets, in terms of ability to own stores and manufacture its products.
“We’ve had really great productive discussions with the Indian government and I fully expect that at some point, they will agree to allow us to bring our stores into the country. We’ve been in discussions with them and the discussions are going quite well,” Cook said during the fourth quarter 2018 earnings call Thursday. Cook said that in India there are import duties in some or most of the product categories that Apple is in and in some cases they compound. “This is an area that we’re giving lots of feedback on. We do manufacture some of the entry iPhones in India and that project has gone well. I am a big believer in India. I am very bullish on the country and the people and our ability to do well there,” he said. Cook said that despite the challenges, including currency weakness, he was very optimistic about his company’s future growth in the Indian market.
With the rupee touching 74 to a dollar, Cook said the currency weakness has been part of Apple’s challenge in India, “as you can tell from just looking at the currency trends, but I sort of view these as speed bumps along a very long journey though, and the long term is, I think is very, very strong there (India). “There’s a huge number of people that will move into the middle class. The government has really focused on reform in a major way and made some very bold moves and I applaud them for doing that, and sort of can’t wait for the future there,” he said.
On some deceleration in key emerging markets, Cook said the emerging markets that Apple is seeing pressure in are Turkey, India, Brazil, Russia.
“These are markets where currencies have weakened over the recent period. In some cases, that resulted in us raising prices and those markets are not growing the way we would like to see,” he said. Cook said Apple’s business in India in Q4 was flat. “Obviously, we would like to see that be a huge growth. Brazil was down somewhat compared to the previous year. And so I think, or at least the way that I see these, is each one of the emerging markets has a bit of a different story, and I don’t see it as some sort of issue that is common between those for the most part,” he said.