Apple's Tim Cook woos app developers in India

The company claims “tens of thousands” of developers of iOS apps in India

In a bid to win over more Indian developers, Apple on Wednesday announced it would set up by early next year a facility to help developers on best practices and to improve the design, quality and performance of their apps on the iOS platform.

The facility in Bangalore, called a Design and Development Accelerator, aims to provide specialized support for the “tens of thousands” of developers in the country, who develop applications for the iOS operating system.

Bangalore has a large base of developers, working for the research and development centers of multinational companies or in startups, besides others who work independently. Apple estimates that over 1 million people in the city work in the tech sector, with over 40 percent of graduates from local universities specializing in engineering or IT.

The company is evidently aiming to tap into this developer base for newer apps around its platforms. The developers could also help Apple develop apps that meet specific needs of the local market, as it tries to expand from the premium segment of the urban market to other customers.

Apple's CEO Tim Cook is on his first visit to India, which he has identified as a growth market for the company, where he expects “disproportionate growth versus the more developed areas.” The company’s iPhone sales were up 56 percent year-on-year in the country in the last quarter, though this is from a small base, as the device is still perceived as an expensive product in the price-sensitive market.

Android is the most popular platform in India because of the sheer number of people using smartphones running the operating system, said Varun Mathew, CEO of Dekkoh, the developer of an app that provides an assisted-buying platform for fashion products. Developers usually try out a concept first on Android before offering an iOS version of the app, as it is easier to validate the concept with the large amount of feedback you get from Android users, he added.

Over 90 percent of users of the Dekkoh app run it on Android. But iOS is also attractive for developers because users of the iPhone tend to have higher purchasing power and are more likely to retain apps they download, in contrast to Android users who frequently delete apps to save on memory on their phones, Mathew said.

Apple should help developers promote the app and get downloads, said Mathew, who added that there isn’t a lot that the company can do by way of technical support, as there are already third-party analytics and development tools available.

The iPhone maker has already worked with some companies in India on sprucing up their iOS apps. “Apple’s expert guidance on the interface and user experience has helped us build an app that our consumers love,” said Kunal Bahl, CEO of online retailer Snapdeal, in a statement. 

Apple said its experts will lead briefings and provide one-on-one app reviews for developers. The company will also give developers “access to tools which will help them create innovative apps for customers around the world,” and provide support on Apple's Swift programming language.

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