Mobile

Apple gets to sell iPhones again in Southeast Asia’s largest market

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After skipping the iPhone 6S, Apple finally gets to sell iPhones again in the largest smartphone market in Southeast Asia.

This is because the San Francisco technology giant has committed to a $44 million R&D centrein Indonesia, thus fulfilling a requirement for 4G smartphones to use 30 percent local components.

The 30 percent can be made up of hardware and software.

Sales of the Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus began on Mar. 31, after it pledged to build a research and development center 25km (16 mi.) from Jakarta, in the city of Tangerang.

Apple could not release the last model, the iPhone 6S in Indonesia; the iPhone 7 first hit global markets in September 2016.

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An app developer demonstrates an iPhone app showing halal restaurants and products in Japan

Apple’s investment into the Indonesian market is a win for the country, which has fought to ensure that foreign firms take a greater role in developing its burgeoning phone manufacturing industry.

Some quit Indonesia over the requirement.

When the rules were first announced, other manufacturers responded differently. China’s OnePlus quit the market, but others rushed to comply.

Samsung announced that it would manufacture phones in West Java a month before the rules were put in place, while Xiaomi built a manufacturing plant in the Riau Islands in February this year.

The policy has been effective in driving foreign investment — 65 percent of the smartphones sold in Indonesia are now manufactured domestically, according to the South China Morning Post.

34 brands now make phones in 20 facilities in the country, according to Gusti Putu Suryawirawan, a director-general for the country’s industry ministry. Analysts say Indonesia can make an estimated 39 million smartphones a year, SCMP reported.

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The move into Indonesia is certainly important for Apple. The country is expected to the world’s fourth largest market for smartphones by 2020, with over $1 billion in sales, says Euromonitor International. Indonesia will have a projected 92 million smartphone users by 2019.

Apple faces stiff competition in price-sensitive Indonesia. The country’s smartphone market is currently dominated by both Samsung and Chinese smartphone brand Oppo, which has 26 percent and 19 percent of the market, respectively.

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