Everybody wants a piece of the smartphone action in India, which is not only the world’s second-most populous country, but also one of very few major mobile markets with room left for both short and long-term growth.

Regional smartphone penetration is currently around the 30 percent mark, compared to nearly 80 stateside and closer to 90 in Samsung’s backyard, according to various research firms. Furthermore, low-cost, generally low-end devices continue to take the lion’s share of sales, as premium Androids and iPhones are often out of the everyday user’s reach due to ridiculously high prices.

For its part, Apple has been trying hard to find a way to charge considerably less for iOS handhelds on Indian shores, though lowering the quality bar is still not an option. Neither is dumping refurbished units manufactured elsewhere, so sooner or later, Cupertino will need to crack, and join the “Make in India” initiative.

On the local government’s terms, mind you, with little negotiating going on. Some incentives and tax exemptions will probably be offered in the end to sign a no doubt mutually lucrative collaboration, with a “senior government official” suggesting the deal is practically done at last.

Apple remains cautious about making similar declarations, but the dialogue it recently conducted with the respective authorities is described as “constructive and open” towards an eventual goal of “developing operations in India.”

Somewhat surprisingly, separate reports earlier this week pegged Wistron rather than Foxconn as Apple’s exclusive partner for producing and assembling iPhones in the rapidly growing market that’s still dominated by Samsung.

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