Apple apparently gives up owning its own flagship stores in India

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Apple India seemingly can't open its own a flagship store like the one in NYC, so it's forced to turn to franchisees to do it.
Photo: Simone Lovati/Flickr CC

It’s going to be years before Apple India can hope to open flagship retail stores. So the company is allowing local franchisees to open huge Apple stores in major cities to take their place.

India puts stringent requirements on companies who want to open retail stores, and so far Apple hasn’t met them.

The company has been trying to get permission to open official Apple Stores for years, including CEO Tim Cook meeting with India’s Prime Minister about it.. But the company was required to produce 30 percent of its products in the country before it received approval to open retail stores.

It has now met that criteria. Wistron started making the iPhone SE in India in 2017, and the same company began manufacturing the iPhone 6s there a few months ago. So far, however, Apple hasn’t received approval from the Indian government of its foreign direct investment plans, according to The Economic Times of India.

Apple India flagship store stopgap measure

It seems Apple may have decided to stop trying to jump through the Indian government’ s hoops. It is reportedly going to allow franchisees to open large “Flagship Apple Premium Reseller” locations in major Indian cities.

There are already about 150 locally-owned franchises selling iPhones and other Apple devices. There would be just a handful of flagship franchises. These could be as large as 5,000 square feet, while regular Apple stores in India are about 1,500, according to a separate report from The Economic Times of India.

An Apple India problem

This isn’t the only struggle Apple is having in India. It reportedly shipped fewer than a million devices in the country in the first six months of this year. And that’s in a country with a population of 1.4 billion people. It isn’t even in the top 5 smartphone makers in the area.

iPhones are already expensive, and India put tariffs on them because so few were produced in the country. However, with Wistron now pumping out two different models, these tariffs might be lowered soon. And the new flagship locations are surely expected to help sales as well.

Still, Apple is still locked in battle with India’s telecom regulator over an anti-spam app.