India may be about to get its own Apple Stores

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An Apple reseller in India. Photo: Lawrence Sinclair/Flickr CC
The closest thing India currently has to an Apple Store.
Photo: Lawrence Sinclair/Flickr CC

With the Chinese economy slowing, Apple’s got another heavily-populated country in its sights — with Apple India filing an application to open official Apple Stores with the country’s department of industrial policy and promotion.

“We have just received Apple’s proposal. We are examining it,” said India’s DIPP Secretary Amitabh Kant.

The decision to go for Apple Stores in India follows on from the relaxation of Indian laws concerning foreign investment, which previously stated that single-brand retailers should source 30 percent of their products from within the country. Laws also did not allow single-brand retailers with foreign investment to set up e-commerce portals.

Currently Apple has stores inside India, but these are third-party premium resellers operating on a franchise model. Recently it was noted that Apple is also teaming with local consumer electronics chain Croma to open six retail stores-inside-a-store, similar to the mini-Apple Stores run during the 1990s. These would feature the familiar Apple Store look and feel, and be manned by staff trained by Apple.

Although it still represents a relatively small market for Apple, India is growing quickly for Apple. The company sold 1.7 million iPhones there between October 2014 and September 2015, which represents an increase from the 1.1 million units sold the previous financial year.

In 2015, Tim Cook met with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which Apple’s CEO said that India holds a, “very special place in the heart of every Apple employee” because it was the country Steve Jobs visited as a young man searching for inspiration.

India’s Communications and I.T. Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has also pushed for Apple to open an R&D center in the country, while there has been talk about Foxconn shifting iPhone production to India, since this would allow it to get around the problem of accelerating wage inflation in China, where the majority of iPhones are made at the moment.

Apple has additionally shown itself to be bullish on growing its enterprise market in India, potentially helping protect Apple against a possible slowdown in the consumer market worldwide. One report suggests that Apple is expecting 15-20 percent of its revenues to come from the enterprise market in India.

There’s no word on exactly when an Apple Store proper will open in India, but it would certainly be a significant development — and demonstrate yet again that there are still plenty of (relatively) untapped markets for Apple to expand into.

Source: Economic Times

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