Washington: Apple CEO Tim Cook has called India a "hugely exciting market" for the company. Speaking at the company's earnings call on Thursday, Cook stated that India will be a "major focus" for the company, which is looking to choose the country as an alternative production base to China and as a source of growth, Nikkei Asia reported.

"India is a hugely exciting market for us and is a major focus," Nikkei Asia quoted Tim Cook as saying.

"We're putting a lot of emphasis on the market," he further said.

Tim Cook added, "I'm very bullish on India." Apple witnessed a quarterly revenue record in India for October to December, with double-digit year-over-year growth. The development comes amid otherwise gloomy results announced on Thursday, including production headwinds in China and weakening global consumer demand dealt the company its first revenue drop in more than three years.

Apple announced that the company witnessed an all-time record for iPhone sales in India in the quarter. However, the company did not mention specific numbers regarding revenue or units sold. Tim Cook said that Apple grew very strong double digits year over year despite the headwinds faced by the company.

"We ... grew very strong double digits year over year, and so we feel very good about how we performed, and ... that's despite the headwinds that we've talked about," Nikkei Asia quoted Tim Cook as saying.

Apple has not yet opened retail stores in India. However, the company appears to be preparing up for opening retail stores as it started hiring retail store workers in the country in January. In addition, Apple has posted plans to fill many other roles as it prepares to open its first flagship locations as soon as this quarter.

Like China, India is important to Apple in terms of a sizable market and a growing manufacturing hub. In January, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said that Apple wants India to account for up to 25 per cent of its production, from about 5 per cent to 7 per cent now, according to Nikkei Asia. On November 6, Apple warned investors that China's COVID restrictions had affected its primary assembly hub for the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max in Zhengzhou.

Apple had announced that shipment volumes of the two new models would be lower than expected and customers would have to wait for a longer time to receive new products, as per the news report. In his remarks on Thursday, Tim Cooks said that Apple has enhanced its effort to diversify its production base amid souring ties between US and China and pandemic-affected supply chain disruptions, particularly in China last year.