On May 16th we penned the article "Apple is Creating an Enormous Success in India." That article surrounded the inroads Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook was making in India following his first ever visit as CEO.
But news has broken today that pushes this narrative yet further along, and while Apple is facing censorship and possible corruption in China, India is shaping up to be an enormous success. Here's the breaking news and the details to support the bullish narrative.
India's Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) has a website and on that site comes this news (emphasis added):
The note includes various industries from defense to pharmaceutical and on to aviation and technology. The critical takeaway with respect to Apple was this:
WHAT THIS MEANS
What you will read little about (unless it comes from CML), is that Apple has already been earmarked as 'cutting edge' technology. That means that Apple can side-step the 30% manufacturing rule in India and begin opening Apple Stores and selling iPhones very soon. Here's what has happened in a very short period of time, and as far as we can tell, this is barely the beginning.
India will represent the second largest smartphone market to China as of 2017, overtaking the United States. Here's the growth via Statista.
SMARTPHONE USERS IN INDIA
That's 204 million smartphone users in India in 2016. .
Until recently Apple had no footprint in the country because of a national law that protects local manufacturers. In fact, here's Apple's miniscule market share as of mid-2015:
SMARTPHONE MARKET SHARE IN INDIA
Many people reported those numbers closer to 1%. Even more, Morgan Stanley reported that nearly half of the Indian population hasn't even heard of the Apple brand. But everything is changing.
EVERYTHING IS CHANGING
The media will have you believe that the recent meeting in India was the first for Tim Cook. It was not. In a meeting last year we learned this:
India has singled out "cutting-edge technology" as a segment that can side-step the 30% local producer rule and Apple has been singled out as "cutting-edge technology." That phrase "cutting edge technology" should sound familiar -- it's exactly the language used today by India's Prime Minister.
But we don't have to rely on a wing and a prayer. It's already working for Apple in India.
IT'S ALREADY WORKING
News from Quartz actually came out this March that signaled a turning tide for Apple.
That number has spiked to 5.8% in tier-I Indian cities. Here's the chart:
SMARTPHONE MARKET SHARE TIER-1 INDIA
IT'S GOING TO GET BIGGER
This massive increase is not even the tip of the iceberg. It's not even the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Apple is going to open stores and its brand awareness will proliferate. Remember that less than half of the populace in India has even heard of the Apple brand. But that's not the real change.
This narrative pushes forward when we also look to the iPhone SE -- a smaller version of Apple's trademark product that also has the lowest price point ever of $399. But there's more:
News came out in early May that Apple's critical supplier, Foxconn, has plans to open a $10 billion iPhone manufacturing plant in India.
Then on May 16th we learned that Apple has opened a development center in India for 150 workers. The second largest country in the world with the second largest smartphone market is the world is about to open up for Apple.
APPLE CAN DO WHAT FACEBOOK, GOOGLE, AMAZON CANNOT
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) can't get into China. In another note we penned "It's Hidden in the Cracks, But: Google is Going After China," we remarked how Google and Facebook are making overtures to China. We wrote:
India is Facebook's second largest market. Apple has China and now it's going to have India. And, if India feels like the obvious new market for success for all tech giants, Amazon would have agreed, until this news came out: "Amazon and Flipkart are speechless after India announces new foreign investment rules" via quartz.
The Indian government clarified its policy for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the fast-growing e-commerce sector. FDI will not be allowed in inventory-based models.
That's another story, for another time, but Apple's special treatment in India is really special. As in, elite.
WHY THIS MATTERS
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Thanks for reading, friends. The author is long Apple shares in his personal account.