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Hello Mumbai! From CEOs to vada pav, Apple CEO Cook gets a taste of India

Perhaps this is the beginning of not just Tim Cook's India adventure but Apple's as well

tim cook, madhuri

“Thanks @madhuridixit for introducing me to my very first Vada Pav — it was delicious!” Cook quote-tweeted

BS Reporters Mumbai

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In 1974, Steve Jobs, the fabled founder of Apple Inc, came to India and spent seven months exploring the country’s storied spirituality. Jobs was a hippie college dropout and had not yet started Apple.

Comparing Tim Cook, who took charge as Apple’s CEO in 2011, to Jobs would be like comparing apples to oranges. Jobs believed in intuition, which he said he had learned during his time in India, and was imperious and impetuous. Cook, who holds a degree in industrial engineering and an MBA, is reputed to follow a studied and collaborative style of leadership.

Yet, on Monday, Cook spent a day in Mumbai that can be called his own Indian adventure. He landed in the city in the early hours, a day ahead of the inauguration of Apple’s first store in India, in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex.

By the evening, he had retweeted a picture posted by Madhuri Dixit Nene, who ruled the Hindi movie screens in the 1990s, showing the two of them having vada pav together and laughing with abandon.

“Thanks @madhuridixit for introducing me to my very first Vada Pav — it was delicious!” Cook quote-tweeted.

This was the second picture on Cook’s Twitter timeline on Monday. In the first, he was a blob of grey hair and white T-shirt nearly drowning in a sea of green T-shirts donned by dozens of Apple staff at the new store. “Hello, Mumbai! We can’t wait to welcome our customers to the new Apple BKC tomorrow,” Cook tweeted.

In between, he met India Inc leaders including Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, his son, Akash, and daughter, Isha — both of whom occupy key positions in the RIL empire — and Manoj Modi, director, Reliance Retail and Reliance Jio. A video of serveral black limos leaving Antilia, the Ambani residence, went viral as Cook was reportedly spotted there. There’s a connect: The Mumbai Apple store is opening at the Reliance Jio Mall.    

But there was more to Cook’s India Inc interactions. He met N Chandrasekaran, chairman, Tata Sons, among some others. The Tata Group is getting ready to start manufacturing Apple phones in India. Needless to say, the meeting between Cook and Chandrasekaran was a closed-doors affair.

Cook is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a few ministers during the Delhi leg of his India visit later this week.

According to a Bloomberg report, the Cupertino-based firm, which completes 25 years in India, saw its sales touch a new record of $6 billion for the year ended March 31, 2023. Its revenue surged 50 per cent in FY23 over the previous year.

However, the company's market share in the smartphone segment does not figure in the top five. The segment is dominated by Korea's Samsung and the Chinese manufacturers, Xiaomi and Vivo.

With the first store in Mumbai and a second store coming up in New Delhi, in Saket, the company has finally forayed into direct retail in India. Perhaps this is the beginning of not just Tim Cook’s India adventure but Apple’s as well.

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First Published: Apr 17 2023 | 9:34 PM IST

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