By Elton Gomes
Apple has appointed Nokia’s Chief Customer Operations Officer (CCOO) Ashish Chowdhary as its new India operations head. Chowdhary will take on his new role in Apple from January 2019. He had joined Nokia in 2003.
Chowdhary will succeed Michel Coulomb, who took over as head of Apple’s India operations in December 2017 from Sanjay Kaul.
The decision to hire Chowdhary indicates that Apple is aiming for a really long-term growth in a price-sensitive market where its products are usually purchased by either those who have high spending power, or those who choose older generation phones for affordability.
Nokia also announced some changes in the composition of its group leadership team, stating that Chowdhary will “leave Nokia at the end of 2018 after 15 successful years.”
“Chowdhary will continue to lead Customer Operations and remain a member of the Nokia Group Leadership Team until the end of 2018. He will then leave Nokia to take a leadership position in another company,” Nokia said, as per an IANS report.
Who is Ashish Chowdhary?
Chowdhary brings with him 25 years of international experience in enterprise and telecom sectors. As Chief Business Officer, he was responsible for Nokia Networks’ sales and operations globally.
Chowdhary was born in 1965 in Delhi. He received his graduate degree from Delhi University in Mathematics. He holds masters degrees in Computer Science from Emory University, and in Business Administration from Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania, in the United States.
Chowdhary joined Nokia in 2003 as the chief of the Nokia Networks’ India operations, a position he held till 2007. After 2007, he was promoted to the Head of Managed Services for Nokia Siemens Networks before he finally became the CCOO for Asia, Middle East, and Africa at Nokia Networks.
“Since he knows India and has been in Nokia, Chowdhary brings a local country flavour that he understands better than somebody from the outside,” said Navkendar Singh, associate director at the International Data Corporation (IDC), Quartz reported.
Apple concerned about growth in India
Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, for the first time in almost six years, admitted that the iPhone maker’s growth in India is becoming a challenge due to a weak rupee and higher import duties, though he said he is “very bullish”.
Apple reported flat sales in India for the September quarter after reporting one of its fastest growth rates for 22 straight quarters.
Addressing analysts at a quarterly earnings call on Friday, Cook said that the Cupertino-based technology giant was “seeing pressure” in emerging markets such as Turkey, India, Brazil, and Russia. He attributed the pressure to weakening currencies.
“These are markets where currencies have weakened recently,” Cook said, the Economic Times reported. “In some cases, that resulted in us raising prices. Those markets are not growing the way we would like to see. To give you perspective, our business in India in Q4 was flat. Obviously, we would like to see that be a huge growth.”
A daunting task for Chowdhary?
Chowdary’s appointment comes after Apple has struggled with sales in India. The iPhone maker is hoping its new range of iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks will see an uptick in sales in the Indian market, where Apple’s growth continues to be sluggish.
Chowdary now faces a daunting task of reviving Apple’s growth in India. Apple’s market share has been reduced to just 1 percent in India, after it lost substantially to newer players like OnePlus.
However, it now seems that Apple is making significant attempts to curb costs by consolidating distribution channels and cutting back on the number of retail partners.
“Under the earlier management, it was about getting volumes and letting markets discover price. Nearly two-thirds of sales came from older models. That dilutes a brand like Apple,” IDC’s Navkendar Singh said, as per a report in Quartz. “Chowdhary will reinforce the price discipline and channel discipline put in place in the last six months.”
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.
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