Apple is increasing its focus on India after announcing plans to open its first developer center in the country. The new ‘iOS App Design and Development Accelerator’ will be located in Bangalore (known also as Bengaluru) and it is scheduled to open in early 2017.
The center is designed to provide support for app developers in the country. Apple said it 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 works closely with iOS app developers that it hand selects, but the centers is designed to expand its reach to more in the community and, in this case, more in India. Building an ecosystem of top apps is one way that Apple can appeal to consumers who are in the market for a smartphone.
“India is home to one of the most vibrant and entrepreneurial iOS development communities in the world. 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,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.
The U.S. company has steadily put more attention on India in recent years, in part because India’s smartphone market is showing signs of serious growth potential and also to offset some of the company’s reliance on China for revenue.
India recently overtook the U.S. to become the world’s second largest smartphone market with an estimated base of 220 million smartphone users. That’s just a fraction of the country’s 1.2 billion population, and there’s much potential for growth. While sales are slowing in markets like the U.S., Europe and China, analyst firm Gartner is tipping India to see double-digit growth for at least the next two years.
Yet, Apple’s share of the market remains small. A recent report suggested that in urban areas, where more consumers have the spending power to buy Apple devices which are higher than the average spend, Apple has around 5.8 percent marketshare. That’s far behind China, where Apple currently enjoys around 22 percent of sales, according to data from Kantar.
Apple’s success on China has presented issues. The company is seen by many as under pressure from the government — appeasing the state, which is cracking down on overseas tech firms, may be behind Apple’s $1 billion investment in Chinese Uber rival Didi Chuxing — while the Chinese smartphone market’s slowdown is a key reason Apple disappointed in its recent earnings. Growing both the market in India and its share of smartphone sales in the country is a key objective for Apple, and this new developer center fits squarely into that strategy.