• Apple, Reliance to enter long-term relationship; VoLTE iPhones on Reliance Jio Network on anvil

    Apple CEO Tim Cook and a team of top Reliance Industries executives have agreed to forge a long-term relationship which includes supplying a couple of million VoLTE iPhones that will work on Reliance Jio’s upcoming 4G network as well as deploying an enterprise solution, developed by the Cupertino-headquartered company and IBM, for Reliance Retail.

    These decisions were taken at a lunch meeting which lasted for more than two hours at Mukesh Ambani’s residence, Antilia, in South Mumbai, said two senior executives aware of the development. While Ambani was not present as he was overseas, RIL was represented by his son Akash Ambani, his close friend and confidant Manoj Modi as well as by Sanjay Mashruwala and Pankaj Pawar.

    Mashruwala is the managing director of Reliance Jio. Pawar is a member of the core team of both Jio and Reliance Retail.

    The Reliance executives made a strong pitch about how Apple can play a big role in Jio’s growth and how bundling of iPhones with its data service will make a compelling proposition for consumers, boosting the penetration of iPhones in the country.

    Reliance is keen to sell these bundled iPhones through its own sales and distribution network covering 1.2 lakh retailers and ecommerce firms and hence wants to forge a direct sourcing relationship with Apple, the executives said.

    The executives added that Mashruwala also gave a presentation on the Reliance Jio network, how it will revolutionse mobile broadband in the country and how Apple can get involved.

    Cook, it is learnt, has given his in-principle nod to a strategic relationship with Jio.

    The Reliance team also expressed their interest to deploy enterprise retail solutions which Apple and IBM have jointly developed. Reliance Retail plans to give Apple devices like iPhones and iPads to its shop-floor employees to improve consumer experience. Apple and IBM have developed a suite of retail solutions for customer payment, boosting shop-floor service by offering customised solution for individual customers and also aiding retailers in product and inventory planning.

    Cook, on his part, made a pitch for potential deployment of Apple Pay, the mobile wallet and digital payment solution, in the Reliance Retail stores. The Reliance team has agreed to evaluate its deployment in its stores, the executives said.

    An email sent to Reliance did not elicit any response till late Wednesday evening. An Apple spokesperson said it was a private meeting and hence would not like to make any comment.

    Cook and the Apple team including country head Sanjay Kaul had gone to Antilia around 12:30-1pm. The Apple CEO was wearing a blue blazer, brown trousers and strikingly colourful striped socks.

    It is learnt that the Reliance team gave a memento to the Apple chief. Apparently, Cook and Ambanis have known each other for some time and the family members are believed to be big Apple fans. Riley Dixon Jersey

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