Apple opens iOS developer center in India in search for growth

Apple is planning to open a center in Bangalore, India, to help support and develop app makers, as it looks to the country to stoke future growth for its iPhones and other products, the company announced on Wednesday.

The Cupertino, CA-based technology giant said it will establish an "iOS App Design and Development Accelerator" which is set to open in early 2017.

As part of the initiative, Apple will hold briefings and provide one-on-one app reviews for developers creating software for the company's products such as the Apple Watch or iPhone. Developers will get support and guidance on using Swift – Apple's programming language that is used to build apps.

"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," Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in a press release on Wednesday.

Bangalore – known officially as Bengaluru – is seen as India's major technology hub. Some of the country's most successful start-ups fromUber to rival Ola and e-commerce player Snapdeal are based there. Over one million people in the city work in the tech sector, and over 40 percent of graduates from local universities specialize in engineering or information technology, Apple said.

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Apple's announcement comes as Cook kicks off his trip to India where he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Cook has flown straight from China where Apple announced it invested $1 billion in Uber's Chinese rival Didi Chuxing.

India next growth market?

The iPhone maker is in search of new growth markets. In Apple's fiscal second quarter, iPhone unit sales fell 16 percent year-on-year. Even more troubling for Apple was the 26 percent fall in revenues from China, a country that was once a key driver of growth.

Apple will be hoping India can replicate the success China had. Indian smartphone shipments rose 5.2 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2016 to 23.5 million units, bucking the flat trend seen globally, according to IDC. But the market is one typically dominated by lower-priced but high-spec smartphones from the likes of Samsung and local players such as Micromax. Apple has a roughly 2 percent market share.

Still the trip highlights the importance the market could play for Apple in the future. By helping developers with coding and development, Apple could develop an iOS ecosystem of people making apps. This could lead to more localized apps and software on Apple devices that might appeal to consumers.

"This is a huge vote of confidence in India's developer community and a tremendous opportunity to gain world-class design and development expertise," Deepinder Goyal, chief executive of start-up Zomato, said in a press release.