After a long wait, Apple is about to start selling iPhones made in India.
Production is beginning at the company’s plant in Bangalore, and Apple plans to start selling the smartphones in India within the next two weeks, the company said in a statement emailed to CNNMoney.
Apple (Tech30) has chosen the four-inch iPhone SE for the initial rollout, a “small number” of which are being assembled at its new plant in India’s tech capital. ,
“We’ll begin shipping to domestic customers this month,” Apple said in the statement.
The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
India is expected to overtake the U.S. to become the world’s second largest smartphone market this year, and Apple has been trying for years to grab a bigger piece of the action. Global rival Samsung ( currently dominates the Indian market, but Chinese brands such as Oppo and Vivo are also becoming increasingly popular. )
Apple’s efforts to set up retail stores in the South Asian nation have so far been stymied by rules that require foreign vendors to build their products locally.
After prolonged negotiations with the Indian government — and even a visit by CEO Tim Cook last year — the company finally decided to open the Bangalore plant, run by Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron.
Apple already sells a wide range of products in India through its network of local distributors, but the cost of doing that is significantly higher because of the country’s prohibitive import duties.
The company did not reveal whether it plans to manufacture other models in India in the future, but the iPhone SEs made in Bangalore will likely be far cheaper than imports.
And if the Silicon Valley giant plays its cards right, India could even get its first Apple Store soon.
CNNMoney (New Delhi) First published May 17, 2017: 12:22 PM ET