Whether Apple will ever open an official flagship retail store in India is the greatest “will they, won’t they” off-and-on relationship since Pam and Jim in The Office.
From the sound of things, things are back in the “it’s happening” category. According to a new report, Apple has finalized a short list of locations for its first Apple Store in the country.
These are located in Mumbai, the most populous city in India with 12.4 million people living there. Apple is supposedly picking between several “upscale sites.” It will make a final decision in the coming weeks. The spots chosen are described as being iconic. Comparisons are made with the Fifth Avenue Apple Store in New York, its Regent Street Store in London, or the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
In the past, Apple was blocked from opening Apple Stores in India partly due to laws about local sourcing of products. For companies wanting single brand retail stores, laws stated that they must source 30 percent of their products locally. Apple has previously not fallen into this category. This may now be changing due to the growing number of iPhones built in India.
“Its own retail store might be just what Apple requires to reinforce its premium image,” Canalys analyst Rushabh Doshi told Bloomberg. “A store just before the next launch will be the perfect timing for Apple to restart its Indian growth story.”
Challenges in India
Apple has struggled to grow its market in India. Although people bought upward of 140 million smartphones in India last year, just 1.7 million of them were iPhones.
To help counter this, Apple recently slashed prices of iPhones in India. Specifically, it cut the price of the iPhone XR by up to 22 percent in an attempt to boost sales. Last summer, Apple parted ways with three members of its executive team in India. It has also hired the former Chief Customer Operations Officer at Nokia Networks to head up its India operations department.