The shift marks the first time that India will become Apple’s own sales territory, which has seen growing demand in the country. According to the people, who asked not to be named because the move was not publicized, it would give the Asian country a boost in prestige within the tech giant.
Apple is making this change following the recent resignation of Hugh Asseman, vice president responsible for India, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and Africa. With his departure, the iPhone maker will promote its India chief, who reports to Asseman. That executive, Ashish Choudhary, will now report directly to Michael Fenger, Apple’s head of product sales.
A company spokesman declined to comment.
The company posted record earnings in India last quarter, even as its overall sales fell 5%. Apple has set up an online store to serve the region and plans to open its first retail outlets in the country later this year. In a recent earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said the company is “very focused on the market” and compared the current state of its operations in India to its early years in China.
“In fact, we’re taking what we learned in China a few years ago and how we’re expanding into China,” he said. China currently generates about $75 billion a year in revenue for Apple, making it the company’s biggest sales region after America and Europe.
Apart from serving as a sales engine for Apple, India is also becoming increasingly important for the company’s product development. Major suppliers are moving into the region, with Apple including Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. is working with the company, also known as Foxconn, to build new iPhone production facilities in the country, Bloomberg News reported.
The latest changes affect Apple’s management structure, but not the way it reports regional sales in its state financial results. In these statements, the company includes India as part of its Europe category, along with the Middle East and Africa. It also divides four other regions: the Americas, Greater China, Japan, and the rest of Asia-Pacific.
Asseman’s departure is part of a growing number of executives who have left the company in recent months. Apple’s vice president of subscription services resigned earlier this year, and its cloud chief plans to leave next month. Last year, top managers responsible for industrial design, procurement, software and hardware engineering, privacy, information systems and the online store all announced their resignations.
A company veteran of more than two decades, Asseman splits his time between Apple’s London office and its base in Cupertino, California. He started as a marketing manager managing the Mac and iPod lines. He later led retail sales teams before becoming Apple’s head of iPhone sales in Europe and other international markets in 2011. Asseman began his last role in 2015 and retired late last year.
Apple’s sales and international teams are split between Fenger and another vice president, Doug Beck. Fenger oversees hardware, services and enterprise sales globally, while Beck is responsible for the healthcare, education and government segments. Both executives report to Cook, but neither is listed on Apple’s website alongside the CEO’s other direct lieutenants.