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Tata in Talks With Wistron Group to Assemble iPhones in India; How Will It Benefit Indian Buyers?
Even as Apple scrambles to diversify its iPhone manufacturing infrastructure outside of China, back in India the Tata Group is in talks with Taiwan-based Wistron Corp to assemble iPhones locally. Wistron, which has been facing teething troubles with its iPhone operations in India, is reportedly partnering with Tata Group to this effect.
Tata Could Be the Key To India-made iPhones
The update comes from a Bloomberg report detailing the ongoing talks between Tata Group and Wistron. If the talks bear fruition, Apple will have a credible chance at a reliable iPhone production facility outside of China.
According to the report, Tata is currently seeking Taiwan-based Wistron Corp's expertise in product development, supply chain, and final assembly for the iPhone lineup. Tata would be the first Indian brand to manufacture and assemble iPhones once the deal comes through.
"The structure of the deal and details such as shareholdings are yet to be finalized, and talks are ongoing," the report quotes an anonymous insider. Presently, China-based Foxconn and Wistron are the two major companies behind iPhone manufacturing. If the Tata Group makes its way into the iPhone production pipeline, this could alter the iPhone market dynamics - especially from the Indian perspective.
Wistron's Move Comes in the Wake of Disruptions in its Indian Operations
While India is being considered actively, Apple is nevertheless looking for other markets to manufacture and assemble its products; especially the iPhones. The continued tensions between the US and China have forced many US-based brands to look for alternatives elsewhere. Moreover, the rising frequency and harshness of COVID-19-related lockdowns in China are other factors compelling Apple to seek India as a plan B.
Wistron's talks with Tata come in the wake of riots at its Indian iPhone plants that completely shut down the assembly lines for an extended duration. The severe disruption was attributed to Wistron worker protests over alleged non-payment of wages. The worker unrest turned violent, and the company is said to have incurred losses to the tune of Rs. 437 crores.
Wistron is evidently banking on the Tata Group's vast manufacturing expertise to put its iPhone operations in India on track. The report states that Tata Group could multiply iPhone manufacturing fivefold when compared to Wistron India's current production capacity. The report also suggests that the Tata Group would also have the option to diversify beyond simply manufacturing iPhones for Wistron.
Will iPhone Prices Drop in India?
Like all phones imported into the country, the iPhones are also subject to hefty import duties and taxes. It's safe to say that the import duty component will be reduced once Indian iPhone manufacturing can catch up to the local demand.
If Apple chooses to pass the import duty savings to Indian customers, there's no reason why made-in-India iPhones can't be cheaper. In fact, taking iPhone manufacturing outside of China should also help Apple hedge against the impending political and economic turmoil expected to sweep the country in the near future.