The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, working in association with IBM, has completed a series of blockchain-based pilot projects to improve the country's mobile network. Photo: iStock

Apple’s India head Sanjay Kaul has put in his resignation amid reports of a sales slowdown and Michel Coulomb, managing director of the group’s South Asia operations, appointed as chief of Indian business with immediate effect, the Economic Times has reported.

Coulomb, a French national and key executive of CEO Tim Cook, will report to Apple’s head of emerging markets Hugues Asseman. He has been with the company for 14 years.

Earlier Apple India posted revenue of Rs 116.18 billion (US$1.8 billion) for 2016-17, up 17% on the previous year’s Rs 99.37 billion ($1.54 billion) – but the lowest growth rate for six years. In 2015-16, Apple’s sales grew by over 53%.

Last year’s demonetization affected Apple’s festival season sales for iPhone and MacBook and affected transactions at the retail level for months.

The personnel change comes after the company increased prices of all but one iPhone model by an average of 3.5% after the Indian government raised its basic customs duty on mobile phones imported into India to 15% from 10%.

Most analysts believed the price hike would force Apple to manufacture more within India if it wants to retain or increase market share. Rivals such as Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo make most of their devices in India.

Apple currently manufactures only its iPhone SE model in its Bangalore plant and imports 88% of the devices it sells in India. It has a tie-up with Taiwanese manufacturer Wistron Corp to manufacture iPhone SE in India.

Kaul, a Canadian citizen, was named country manager in May last year, after being sales director and head of iPhone sales since April 2011. He succeeded Maneesh Dhir, a former AOL executive who took over as Apple country manager in 2010.

The Indian mobile phone market is currently dominated by Chinese smartphone makers, who control more than half of the market.

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