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Apple may bring back plans to make iPads in India, eyes Pune for AirPod cases

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Apple may resume preparations for manufacturing its iPads in India, encouraged by the government’s push to bring more supply chains into the country, people directly aware of the company’s plans told Moneycontrol, requesting anonymity.According to the sources, Apple may soon start the process to look for a manufacturing partner after its previous attempt to partner with China’s BYD to make iPads in India hit a roadblock due to government restrictions led by geopolitical concerns.

“BYD was almost ready to set up the factory for iPad in India but clearance was a problem and the situation has changed significantly now. We are now trying to help (Apple) expand further to grow for the next two to three years. There will be substantial growth,” a senior government official told Moneycontrol, refusing to be identified.

The government also want Apple to look into making laptops and desktops in India in the coming years.The official said Apple has shared “big plans” for India for the next 2-3 years with the government. “They want to build an alternate supply chain in India and with that more partners will come to India while existing ones will further deepen their capabilities.”

Last year, Apple shifted its iPad product development focus to Vietnam with BYD after encountering difficulties in obtaining approvals to set up iPad manufacturing operations in India.

This comes at a time when the Cupertino-based company is significantly ramping up its manufacturing capabilities for iPhones, besides making further efforts to increase production of components for AirPod wireless charging cases through Jabil in India. Jabil Inc is an American multinational contract manufacturing company, which also makes 4G and 5G equipment for Sweden’s Ericsson.

Apple has a plan to kick off production of TWS (true wireless stereo), AirPods, in India starting early next year. It is already making parts of wireless charging cases for AirPods which are being exported to China and Vietnam.

Apple started trial production of parts of wireless charging cases with Jabil in Pune, and it could also do the same with Foxconn, a person familiar with the matter told Moneycontrol.

“Once Apple approves it after quality testing, Jabil will ramp up commercial production of wireless charging case parts for AirPods. The ramp-up will also not just serve export requirements but will also address domestic demand once Apple finalises plans to start AirPod production in India,” the person said, not willing to be identified.AirPods will be the second product category after the iPhone that will be made in India. Apple’s AirPods leads the TWS (true wireless stereo) market globally.

Luxshare Precision Industry Co was originally slated to manufacture AirPods in India. However, the plan did not succeed, and the company chose to invest in Vietnam, instead, citing political tensions between the two countries.

Queries sent to Apple, Foxconn and Jabil didn’t elicit any response.

Apple has been aggressively increasing local production of its flagship iPhone devices in India through Foxconn and Tata Electronics. Tata, which acquired Wistron operations, is in a process of acquiring Pegatron’s India operations, including an iPhone manufacturing plant near Chennai and another under-construction unit.

Apple aims to expand its production base in the country, targeting to manufacture a quarter of all its iPhones in India over the next 3–4 years, up from 14 percent of their total iPhone production, another official said.

He added that this effort includes building a network of local vendors to reduce dependence on Chinese suppliers.

JP Morgan analysts had estimated in 2022 that a quarter of all Apple products would be made outside China by 2025, from 5 percent at that time. As of end-FY24, about $14 billion worth of iPhones were made in India, making up 14 percent of the global total.

Apple reportedly racked up exports valued at over $2 billion in the first two months of the current financial year (FY25), accounting for 81 percent of the country’s total production of iPhones worth $2.6 billion.

The company shipped over 10 million iPhones in 2023 in India, securing the top revenue position for the year, pipping its Korean rival Samsung, according to a report from Counterpoint Research. In 2022, it shipped over 6 million iPhones.

Apple accounted for 23 percent of the smartphone revenue share in 2023, surpassing Samsung’s 21 percent market share. In the previous year (2022), Samsung held the top spot with a 22 percent smartphone revenue share, while Apple had 17 percent, data accessed by Moneycontrol showed.

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