Apple is reportedly planning to create a startup accelerator in India

Apple is planning to announce an accelerator program for Indian startups when CEO Tim Cook visits the country later this week, the Economic Times and Factor Daily reported on Monday.

Cook will be meeting with Prime Minster Narenda Modi during his trip, Reuters reported.

Apple’s looking for even more growth in India, which will help offset some of the slowing growth from China, another massive market. There’s a lot of challenges, including both distribution and brand awareness.

Fewer stores carry iPhones in India, partially because carriers don’t sell smartphones. In addition, some studies have found that nearly half of Indians aren’t aware of Apple as a brand.

Factor Daily reports that Apple plans to open three Apple Stores in India over the next 18 months. This follows an April report from The Times of India that said the government was poised to waive an Indian regulation about stores sourcing 30% of the goods from the country, which would pave the way for the country’s first Apple Stores.

Apple declined to comment.

There have been a few speed bumps for Apple in recent weeks. India reportedly declined to act on an application by Apple to import and refurbish older iPhones for sale in the country, according to Bloomberg. Several smartphone companies including Samsung and Karbonn banded together to oppose Apple’s application. The application to sell refurbished phones is reportedly one of the discussions Modi and Cook are planning on having.

There’s also a growing group of people in the technology industry that are wary of American companies’ attempts to establish themselves in the Indian market. One example is the group that came together to oppose Facebook’s Free Basics.

Apple has created development centres geared towards iOS apps in the past in markets like Brazil and Italy, often after the company ran into regulatory issues in that country, and it plans to expand the program to other countries around the world.

Factor Daily reports that Apple’s accelerator program will be focused on iOS apps, but it is being called a “startup accelerator” and will be tied to Startup India and Digital India, two Modi programs, the Economic Times reports.

Cook’s trip is shaping up to be a critical moment in Apple’s attempt to crack the Indian market, which could potentially be huge for Apple. Cook said in April that first-quarter iPhone sales in the country were up 56% from the last year.

“I view India as where China was maybe seven to ten years ago from that point of view, and I think there’s a really great opportunity there,” Cook said.

NOW WATCH: How to see everything Google knows about you

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.