Wistron-assembled iPhones in India start to ship to Europe

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FILE - In this Saturday, June 18, 2016, file photo, customers try out Apple iPhone 6s models on display at an Apple Store in Beijing. New documents from WikiLeaks, posted Thursday, March 23, 2017, point to an apparent CIA program to hack Apple’s iPhones and Mac computers such that the exploits persist even after the devices are reset to factory conditions. Apple says the purported hacking techniques have all been fixed in recent iPhones and Mac computers. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

NEW DEHLI (CNA) — Taiwan-based Wistron Corp., one of Apple Inc’s suppliers, said on July 12 that the U.S. consumer electronics giant has started to ship iPhones assembled in India by the Taiwanese firm to the European market.

Speaking with CNA, an industrial source in India familiar with the deal between Apple and Wistron said the U.S. brand is currently shipping a small quantity of iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 models assembled in India by the Taiwanese firm.

The source said whether shipments increase depends on future market demand.

The interview with the source came after the Indian-based Economic Times reported earlier in the day that shipments of Wistron-assembled iPhones to some European markets represented “another step in the iconic smartphone company’s efforts to make India an export hub.”

The report added the shipments have also boosted “the government’s Make in India plan.”

Wistron is the first Apple supplier to make iPhones in India. The Taiwanese manufacturer started to make iPhones at its production site on the outskirts of Bangalore, which has the highest concentration of IT companies in the South Asian market.

Earlier this year, news media in India reported that the move showed Apple’s commitment to the Indian market.

“iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 are being exported in quantities of under 100,000 units a month,” said Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Research, citing export data the firm tracks, in the Economic Times report.

Shah said the shipments started to European markets a few months ago.

Wistron is one of the Taiwanese manufacturers that invested in India in response to the “Make in India” initiative launched in 2014 by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to strengthen the country’s manufacturing capabilities and transform it into a global design and manufacturing hub.

Sources from the construction industry in India told CNA in April that Wistron started to build new production lines at its Bangalore complex in August 2018, and the work is expected to be completed in September this year.

The new facility will initially roll out iPhones and Internet devices and later expand into the production of notebook computers and servers.

According to the report, Apple has asked its suppliers including Wistron, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. and Pegatron Corp., three Taiwanese iPhone assemblers, to look at moving 15-30 percent of their production to locations outside China at a time of ongoing Washington-Beijing trade disputes.

The report also said industrial observers believe Apple is treating India as a production hub more than a significant market.

By Charles Kang and Frances Huang