Reuters: Apple Inc is set to announce plans to expand its Indian software development centre and build an accelerator program for local start-ups, two sources aware of the investment said on Tuesday, hours before Chief Executive Tim Cook’s maiden visit.
Cook, who arrives in India late on Tuesday, is making his Indian debut just as the country emerges as one of the last large growth markets in the smartphone world, while sales in the United States and China begin to taper off.
Among other officials, he is due to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi later in the week.
Over 100 million smartphones were sold in India last year, a number that is expected to grow by 25 % this year. Sales of Apple’s iPhones - which have a two % market share in the country - grew 56 % in the first three months of 2016.
Earlier this year, Apple opened a development centre in Hyderabad, also home to Microsoft’s first India office, where engineers are working on Apple Maps.
The sources did not detail the size of the fresh investment.
The company is also expected to announce plans for a startup accelerator in India to work more closely with the Indian developer community that works on Apple’s iOS and OS X software platforms, one of the sources said.
An Apple spokesman declined to comment.
“Cook’s visit shows how important India has become for Apple and will likely set the stage for the expansion of Apple ecosystem in India,” said Vishal Tripathi, research director at Gartner.
Indian government sources said Modi is likely to press Cook to set up production facilities in India, as part of the government’s plan to find jobs for millions of Indians joining the workforce every year.
Apple is in separate talks to open its first official retail store in the world’s third-largest smartphone market.
Cook’s India visit, which one of the sources said could run into the weekend, also includes meetings with industry partners.
On Friday, Cook is expected to meet Sunil Mittal, the billionaire founder of India’s biggest mobile operator Bharti Airtel, a separate source said.
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire takes $1 b bite of Apple
Reuters - Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc revealed a more than $1 billion stake in Apple Inc in a rare foray into the technology sector, which Buffett has largely shunned apart from a poorly performing investment in IBM.
Shares of Apple rose 3.7% on the news, closing up $3.36 at $93.88. Berkshire made its investment in the first quarter, before the iPhone maker in April reported its first quarterly revenue decline in 13 years.
The investment was announced amid an increasing view among investors that Apple may deserve a lower valuation because its heady growth days may be over. However, Apple has a strong balance sheet and management, attributes long favored by Berkshire.
“It makes sense because it’s a consumer company disguised as a technology company with a great business model, strong cash flow and a cheap valuation,” said Jeff Matthews, author of books about Buffett and a principal at the Ram Partners LP hedge fund. “It’s not a leap of faith.”
In a regulatory filing detailing most of its stock holdings, Berkshire said it held 9.81 million Apple shares worth $1.07 billion as of March 31.
The value of the stake has since fallen to about $921 million, even with Monday’s gain. Berkshire’s largest technology bet has been Buffett’s roughly $12.1 billion stake in International Business Machines Corp, an investment now more than $1.6 billion in the red.
Apple stock “is stunningly cheap, and it has a massive pile of cash,” said Steve Wallman, founder of Wallman Investment Counsel in Middleton, Wisconsin, who has owned shares of Berkshire since 1982 and Apple since 2003. “Apple is not getting credit for research and development it is doing behind the scenes.”
An Apple spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.