By Aditya Kalra and Munsif Vengattil
NEW DELHI - Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook will meet India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its deputy IT minister as part of his visit to inaugurate the iPhone maker's first retail store in the country this week, people familiar with the plans said.
The visit by Cook to open the first official company-owned outlets in Mumbai and New Delhi this week underscores Apple's growing ambitions for India, where despite having just a 3% market share the company has been expanding iPhone assembly via contract manufacturers, and also boosting its exports.
Cook will meet Modi on Wednesday in New Delhi, said the two sources, who included an Indian government official.
One of the sources added the Apple chief would also meet India's deputy IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar.
Modi's office declined to comment, while Apple and the IT ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The sources did not elaborate, but Cook's meetings come amid Apple's growing focus on India, the world's second-largest smartphone market.
Around $9 billion worth of smartphones were exported from India between April 2022 and February this year and iPhones accounted for more than 50% of that, data from the India Cellular and Electronics Association shows.
On Monday, Apple opened its first store in Mumbai, but only for a private event where bloggers and some tech analysts reviewed the design and store layout. It will open to the public from Tuesday, while a second store will be inaugurated inside a New Delhi mall on Thursday.
So far, Apple has sold its products in India via resellers or e-commerce websites such as Amazon.
The Mumbai store is in the premier Reliance Jio World Drive mall, home to luxury clothing and jewellery brands like Michael Kors, Kate Spade and Swarovski. It is 20,800 square feet, far bigger than the planned Delhi outlet, local registration documents show.
In India, iPhones are assembled by three of Apple's contract manufacturers - Foxconn, Wistron Corp and Pegatron Corp. Apple also plans to assemble iPads and AirPods in India.
(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Munsif Vengattil in New Delhi and M. Sriram in Mumbai Additional reporting by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Mark Potter)