Apple is poised to begin mass production of iPhones in India this year, according to Foxconn Technology Group Chairman Terry Gou. This marks a big shift for the largest assembler of Apple’s handsets that has long concentrated production in China. Bloomberg reports: Gou said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited him to India as his Taiwanese company plans its expansion in the country. Apple has had older phones produced at a plant in Bangalore for several years, but now will expand manufacturing to more recent models. Bloomberg News reported this month that Foxconn is ready to start trial production of the latest iPhones in the country before it starts full-scale assembly at its factory outside the southern city of Chennai.
India has become the fastest-growing smartphone market in the world, while China stagnates and Apple loses share to local competitors such as Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp. Apple has been a minor player in India, in part because of its high prices, but local manufacturing would help the Cupertino, California-based company avoid import duties of 20 percent. It’s not yet clear how Apple’s steps into India will affect its China operations. China has been the company’s most important manufacturing base for years, home to Foxconn’s biggest facilities and hundreds of other partners.