Apple CEO Tim Cook Parties With Bollywood on First India Visit

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Apple CEO Tim Cook

Shah Rukh Khan throws a party at his palatial Mumbai home for the boss of the tech giant, which sees growth opportunity in India amid recent challenges in China.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is on his first India visit, concluding his first day by attending a party thrown in his honor by Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan at his palatial Mumbai home.

The guest list included such other celebrities as Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan and Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire).

But Cook was the night's real star, with Khan saying in a tweet, "Mr. Cook u r a rockstar!" as the Apple boss posed for selfies with such personalities as tennis star Sania Mirza.

Cook’s India visit is seen in the context of Apple’s performance in China, which is the company’s second-largest market, but it has reported declining sales momentum there. Moreover, last month, the Chinese government abruptly shut down the company’s iMovie and iBooks services on the iTunes store. Announcing its quarterly results, Apple reported a 12 percent decline in revenue to $50.6 billion.

With India also home to over a billion people, like China, the country provides opportunities for growth for Apple. It is the world’s second-largest smartphone market, with over 220 million users, according to a recent report.

While Apple has been on an aggressive marketing push in the country, the company only commands about 2 percent of the smartphone market, given the dominance of competing Android-based devices, such as those from market leader Samsung.

Cook has used his visit to announce the company’s intentions to expand its India presence via the launch of two development centers, one focusing on its iOS apps and the other focusing on Apple’s Maps application.

“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,” Cook said in a statement Thursday in the southern city of Hyderabad, where the Maps development center will be based.

Given that the Indian government is pushing its Make In India initiative to boost manufacturing in the country, it remains to be seen how Apple will consider the country as a production base.

While software and manufacturing seem like obvious areas to explore, Cook’s Bollywood rendezvous not only has led to extensive media coverage, but also raised discussion about how the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant could tap into the country’s creative industries.

Earlier on Wednesday, Cook was given a tour of the set of Raaz 4 by producer Mukesh Bhatt, who currently is shooting the latest installment of his successful horror franchise. "[Cook] seemed keen to see how Apple could partner with the industry  after all, movies don't have to be made by just big film producers these days, they can be shot on an iPhone," Bhatt was quoted as saying by the Economic Times newspaper.

As it happened, later that evening at the Khan party, Cook posed for a selfie with up-and-coming filmmaker Shlok Sharma, who is shooting his latest film on an iPhone.

Meanwhile, reports also indicate that Cook is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this week before concluding his visit.