Apple Launches iOS App Design Accelerator in India to Grow Sales

The Design and Development Accelerator will offer additional and specialized support to tens of thousands of iOS developers in India.

Apple, app accelerator, iOS, iOS developers, iOS development, India, Tim Cook

Apple has unveiled plans to create a new iOS app Design and Development Accelerator in Bengaluru, India, to help iOS developers there gain more services and resources for their work in one of the world's largest and still-developing markets.

The accelerator is being envisioned to provide specialized support to tens of thousands of iOS developers who are working in India building apps for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices, according to a company announcement May 18. The facility in Bengaluru, the home of India's startup scene, will provide assistance and expertise on best practices, skills training and design, quality and performance improvements for their iOS apps.

Briefings on iOS topics and development will be a regular staple at the center, as well as one-on-one app reviews for developers by iOS experts, according to Apple. Support and guidance on Apple's Swift programming language will also be offered.

The iOS App Design and Development Accelerator is expected to open in early 2017, according to the company.

"India is home to one of the most vibrant and entrepreneurial iOS development communities in the world," Apple CEO Tim Cook (pictured) said in a statement. "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."

India is an increasingly important market for Apple as the company seeks to grow its revenue and profits in a global smartphone market that is nearing saturation in many developed nations. Apple hopes to find new market gains in India to make up for sales and revenue slides in China, the United States and elsewhere around the globe.

The accelerator's coming creation was announced hours after Cook arrived in India on his first official visit to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other government officials there, according to a May 18 Reuters article. Apple "is also expected to unveil plans to expand its software development center in the southern city of Hyderabad, also home to Microsoft's first India office, where engineers are working on Apple Maps," the story reported.

More than 100 million smartphones were sold in India in 2015, with growth of another 25 percent predicted for 2016, Reuters reported. India is in the world's third-largest smartphone market, but so far Apple only has a 2 percent market share there, due mostly to the high cost of the company's phones in a country where incomes are much lower than in Apple's typical big markets. Apple sales in India did, however, grow by 56 percent in the first three months of 2016, Reuters reported.

Earlier in May, Apple unveiled a $1 billion investment in China's DiDi Chuxing ride-sharing service, a competitor to Uber. Apple is making the investment as part of a larger plan to seek new revenue streams and businesses as sales of its flagship products wane around the globe. Apple announced its $1 billion investment in DiDi just before Cook's trip to China for talks with government leaders and after Apple experienced some stumbles in recent months.

In late April, government regulators in China without warning shut down Apple's online iBooks Store and iTunes Movies service, which had opened six months before, leaving the company working with the Communist government to try to restart the services. The shuttering of the Apple services occurred despite permission that Apple previously received from the Chinese government when the services began there last year, according to an earlier eWEEK story. Apple is still working to return the services to users there.

Also in late April, Apple reported a quarterly decline in revenue for the first time since 2003. Apple's second-quarter revenue of $50.6 billion fell 13 percent from $58 billion a year earlier. Net income in that interval fell to $10.5 billion from $13.6 billion, as sales of the company's flagship iPhone smartphones leveled off, ending Apple's 13-year record of uninterrupted sales growth.

In its latest quarter, Apple reported sales of 51.2 million iPhones, down 18 percent from 61.2 million in the same quarter one year ago. The latest quarter's iPhone sales were down sharply—by 32 percent—from the 74.78 million sold in the first quarter of 2016. Revenue from iPhone sales dropped to $32.9 billion in the second quarter, down 18 percent from $40.3 billion one year ago.

For the company, China has long been seen as a place where it could increase revenue due to a large pool of customers and economic growth in recent years. Apple has been garnering more and more of its revenue from China the last several years.

In January, Apple reported $18.37 billion in fiscal first-quarter revenue from China, which accounted for about 24.2 percent of the company's $75.87 billion in revenue for the period. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Apple reported $12.52 billion in revenue from China, out of a total of $51.5 billion. China is Apple's second-largest global market behind the United States.

The company began selling iPhones in China in October 2014, after gaining government device security approvals.