Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thursday opened its first development centre in India in Hyderabad, which will work on Apple Maps. Tim Cook, who is visiting India for the first time, said the Hyderabad office will focus on development of maps for Apple products, including iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch, and is expected to create about 4,000 jobs. The company, however, did not disclose the quantum of investment that it intends to invest on the facility.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said, “Apple is focused on making the best products and services in the world and we are thrilled to open this new office in Hyderabad which will focus on Maps development. The talent here in the local area is incredible and we are looking forward to expanding our relationships and introducing more universities and partners to our platforms as we scale our operations.”

In India, Apple Maps has remained a neglected feature and doesn’t offer the kind of options that Maps does in the US, Europe and China. In these countries Apple Maps includes features like 3D views, Public Transit system, options for shopping, coffee, restaurants, etc. But now with a new dedicated development office for Maps in India, it looks like Apple plans to change all of this. Apple chose Hyderabad considering a variety of factors such as the presence of huge talent pool of map engineers in the city, the presence of National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) that processes images and maps transmitted by India’s earth observation satellites and the large availability of geographical information system (GIS) in the city.

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhara Rao and IT minister KT Rama Rao received Cook and the other officials from Apple when they arrived at the Wave Rock IT special economic zone campus at Nanakramguda on the outskirts of the city. Tim Cook had a one to one interaction with KCR, who he praised for his efforts for further development of Hyderabad, after the formal meeting. KCR promised all support to the centre.

On Friday afternoon, Tim Cook will meet Bharti Chairman, After Hyderabad visit. For Apple, Bharti is a distribution partner in India.

Not all of the 4,000 employees at the facility will be on the rolls of Apple. A majority of the workforce at the facility will be employed by Noida-based RMSI Pvt. Ltd., which provides geospatial and software services. Apple is partnering with RMSI, an authorized reseller of Google Earth Enterprise and Google Maps, according to its website, for the Apple Maps project.

In the US and other markets, Apple gets a significant part of its sales through partnerships with telecom operators. In India, it has not been able to push through with this model. During his visit, Cook is meeting a number of operators to see if Apple can work with telecom companies to improve network quality. “I see a great technical collaboration between Apple and main carriers in India and to make sure the iPhone works incredible on those networks. The feedback I have thus far is very positive on that. We push really hard, in some ways they think we are crazy, but they love it as well that someone is pushing them hard to work together to solve the most difficult problem.”

When asked if India could be as big as China for Apple some day, the Apple chief said that all the ingredients are in place for India to grow exponentially. “I see a lot of positive things happen in the country and more will happen. From GDP point of view there is no doubt in my mind that India will set new records. I can feel it will happen,” Cook said.

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