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Apple to open Maps centre in India, Tim Cook announces

May 20, 2016 5:53 AM
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Apple will set up a new office in Hyderabad, India, to develop the Maps feature for its products. The announcement came a day after the company revealed plans to open an iOS app design centre in Bangalore, as CEO Tim Cook continues his charm offensive to boost sales in the world's second most populous country.

Located in the technology hub of Hyderabad, the company says its investment will accelerate Maps development and create up to 4,000 jobs.

"Apple is focused on making the best products and services in the world and we are thrilled to open this new office in Hyderabad which will focus on Maps development," Cook said in a statement. "The talent here in the local area is incredible and we are looking forward to expanding our relationships and introducing more universities and partners to our platforms as we scale our operations."

The opening date of the Hyderabad campus located in Waverock has not yet been announced.

"Apple is one of the most innovative companies in the world and we are very proud they chose us to partner with for this important project," said Anup Jindal, CEO of local software firm RMSI. "We are experts in geospatial data and we will be hiring thousands of people from the local area to support this effort."

The tech giant earlier said it will open an iOS App Design and Development Accelerator in Bangalore to foster the creation of iOS apps, "support engineering talent and accelerate growth in India's iOS developer community", according to a press release.

In 2012, Apple dropped Google Maps as the default maps app for iPhone users, replacing it with its own application. The move, however, drew a tidal wave of complaints from frustrated users over the app's lack of features and functional problems including misplaced routes.

The company has continued to update Maps since then with features such as 3D views, the Flyover feature and other tools to help users find places to eat, shop and explore. Public transit options were also added in iOS 9, "offering a combination of trains, subways, buses and walking, which is already available for more than 300 cities around the world".

Cook is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week, where he may bring up Apple's proposal to open its own stores and sell refurbished iPhones in the country.

As China's smartphone market becomes more saturated, India has continued to rise as a key focus for Silicon Valley tech giants looking to sell to India's growing middle class.

Earlier this year, Apple reported iPhone sales had climbed 76% from the year-ago quarter.

However, India, besides being the world's second largest smartphone market in the world, is also a very price-conscious market. Nearly 70% of smartphones sold in India cost less than $150 while most iPhone models cost more than $500 in the country.

In April, Apple reported its first quarterly decline in revenue in 13 years. As sales continue to cool down in markets like the US, Europe and China, analyst firm Gartner expects India to see double-digit growth for the next two years.

Boosting sales and market growth in both India and China will be key objectives for Apple over the next few years with the new development centres and its recent landmark billion dollar investment in Uber rival Didi Chuxing seen as strategic moves in that direction.


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