Tim Cook announces Apple facility in Bengaluru, visits Siddhivinayak

Mumbai: Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday announced that the tech giant would establish a Design and Development Accelerator facility in Bengaluru, the home of India's startup scene. “India is home to one of the most vibrant and entrepreneurial iOS development communities in the world,” said Cook, who is on an India visit. “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,” he said in a statement. Cook started his India visit by paying obeisance at the famed Shree Siddhivinayak temple in Prabhadevi locality here. Accompanied by Apple India head Sanjay Kaul, Cook's visit to the temple was a prelude to a host of meetings lined up with top business and Bollywood personalities later in the day. At the temple, Cook ran into Anant Ambani, son of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, and chatted with him for some time. Among the engagements lined up for the Apple CEO are meetings with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry and Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan. Though his official programme has been kept under a lid, during his India trip, Cook is likely to visit the IT capitals of Bengaluru and Hyderabad and later New Delhi. Slated to open in early 2017, Apple's Design and Development Accelerator facility in Bengaluru will be a first of its kind centre that will support engineering talent and developer community, creating innovative mobile apps in India. Thousands of developers in India make apps for iOS, the world’s most powerful mobile operating system and the foundation for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and the new initiative will provide additional, specialised support to the developers. “India is home to one of the most vibrant and entrepreneurial iOS development communities in the world. 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,” Cook remarked. Each week, Apple experts will brief and provide one-on-one app reviews for the developers, support and guide them on Swift, Apple’s powerful and intuitive programming language created to build apps for iOS, Mac, Apple TV and Apple Watch. Swift enables developers write safer, more reliable code, save time and create richer app experiences and a recent report from Toptal showed jobs requests for Swift rising by 600 percent in 2015. Bengaluru is the cradle of maximum tech startups in India with over a million people working in this sector and over 40 percent graduates from local universities specializing in engineering or IT. Cook's visit to India comes at a time when the US technology giant is hit by slower growth in global sales of its flagship products -- iPhone, iPad and Mac. Zomato and Snapdeal along with NASSCOM president R. Chandrashekhar extended their support for the new facility.  “This is a huge vote of confidence in India's developer community and a tremendous opportunity to gain world-class design and development expertise,” said Deepinder Goyal, CEO Zomato, in a statement.  “Apple's support will help drive growth and accelerate progress among the country's vast talent pool,” he added. “Apple's expert guidance on the interface and user experience has helped us build an app that our consumers love. We are thrilled Apple will have a local presence which will amplify our efforts to develop more high-quality apps for our digital commerce ecosystem,” said Kunal Bahl, CEO of Snapdeal, in a statement. “Apple's investment in Bengaluru through its iOS Development Accelerator will have far-reaching effects for the area's rapidly growing and highly talented developer community,” added Chandrashekhar. The Apple CEO is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. He had met Modi at a Silicon Valley event in the US last September, where they discussed manufacturing plans under Modi's 'Make in India' initiative. The Apple CEO flew to the country from China, where Apple announced a $1 billion investment in the local ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing. "India is incredibly exciting. The population of India is incredibly young. Almost half the people in India are below 25. And so I see the demographics there also being incredibly great for a consumer brand and for people that really want the best products," Cook said earlier this year. Cook, who joined Apple in March 1998, was made chief executive of the company, succeeding Steve Jobs, on August 24, 2011. Hit by slower growth in the sale of its flagship products iPhone, iPad and Mac globally, Apple's revenue dropped for the first time since 2003 as the tech giant released earning reports for the second quarter of fiscal 2016 in March. According to reports, the company is looking for new growth markets like India after its sales declined.