Mumbai–From announcing a Design and Development Accelerator facility in Bengaluru to performing aarti at the famed Shree Siddhivinayak temple and attending a star-studded dinner at Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s home in the evening, Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday had a packed schedule as he kicked off his four-day India visit in a highly “encrypted” manner.
Cook kicked off his maiden India trip with an early morning visit to the famed Shree Siddhivinayak temple in Prabhadevi, central Mumbai, where he performed a special ‘aarti’.
Sporting a light blue shirt and dark trousers with a yellow stole with Sanskrit scriptures in orange, Cook performed a special ‘aarti’ of the temple’s presiding deity, Lord Ganesha — who symbolizes wisdom and is the remover of all obstacles.
Accompanied by Apple India head Sanjay Kaul, Cook’s temple visit 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, the scion of Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, and chatted with him for some time
Ahead of the trip, Cook said in an official Apple statement “India is home to one of the most vibrant and entrepreneurial iOS [Apple platform] 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,” he added.
In the evening, the Apple CEO is set for a gala dinner at Shah Rukh’s residence “Mannat” where celebrities like actor-producer Aamir Khan are to be present among the star attendees.
A source in the know of developments told IANS that details of Cook’s visit to Shah Rukh’s house were kept hush-hush, and that “it is a very private gathering”.
The high-profile Apple CEO is slated to visit Bengaluru and Hyderabad on Thursday before flying to New Delhi and meet the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In Hyderabad, he is expected to announce a new digital maps centre for the Telangana capital.
The facility will reportedly commence operations on one lakh square feet leased space in WaveRock, a building owned by real estate giant Tishman Speyer at Nanakramguda.
The US-based firm plans to expand the facility to 2.5 lakh square feet by next year. It will have 2,500 employees, sources said. The company, which has taken the space on lease at WaveRock, is also planning to build its own campus.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao or his son and IT Minister K.T. Rama Rao may make an announcement for allocation of land to Apple for its campus.
According to reports, the company is looking for new growth markets like India after its sales declined.
Apple’s Design and Development Accelerator facility in Bengaluru, slated to open in early 2017, 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.
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.
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 had said earlier this year.