You know what would be an interesting afternoon? Shopping with Apple CEO Tim Cook. Why? He has so much money and doesn’t mind spending it in the most exotic far away places. Not only does Apple drop tens of billions of dollars a year into China, now it’s investing in Chinese businesses.
Investing? Perhaps the correct term is incentivized. Apple has profits. The Chinese government wants some of those profits invested back into China. Fair enough. China is a big market and there’s little doubt that Apple can get a decent return on its $1-billion investment in China’s Uber.
What about India? I spent a summer in Mumbai in my college youth so I have a soft spot for much of India’s culture. Tim Cook’s company hasn’t fared as well in India because Apple’s products are expensive and many potential customers cannot afford the premium end of the product spectrum. So, Apple hatched a plan in the U.S. called the iPhone Upgrade Program whereby we faithful can rent an iPhone for a year and get another one. Every year. Forever. That plan means millions of used iPhones need to find a home and what better place than the folks of India who long to go a little upscale in their lives?
India may have plenty of poor people but the government knew an opportunity when it saw one and nixed Apple’s plan to dump used iPhones in the country. That’s when Tim Cook decided to go to Bollywood, play a little cricket, sample the local cuisine, and spread the wealth by investing in Apple’s future in India. Yes, friends, Apple will setup a Maps facility worth a few hundred million dollars.
What? No Bollywood movie investments? No. That would be a step forward. Cook says Apple is taking a step back in India. Why? The company tried selling expensive techno-gadgets in a country without the same infrastructure as China. Last year Apple did $59-billion in China. India? Not so much.
Apple should have seen this coming.
If China is not the U.S. of A, then India is not China. Apple adjusted methodology to grow business in China but should not have expected entry into India to work the same way, and it didn’t help needed public relations to decide to dump used iPhones into the country. What India wants is an iPhone. For India. Possibly even manufactured in India.
Apple competitor Amazon has invested many millions of dollars in Hollywood to create unique video content. Could Apple do the same with Bollywood and create video content available from iTunes Store for made-in-India iPhones and iPads?
It could happen.