New hope for Apple Stores finally making it to India

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iPhone sales are showing signs of life in India
Apple has been trying for its own retail stores for years.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s much-delayed dreams of opening an official Apple Store in India may finally be close to coming true.

In Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s maiden budget speech, the minister announced the relaxation of laws concerning single brand stores. These rules stated that 30% of goods sold in these stores had to be sourced locally. However, it seems they may no longer apply.

According to the budget speech, foreign stores could be exempt so long as they bring in “over $200 million foreign direct investment (FDI).” It’s not clear what timeframe that figure would be over, but it should certainly be attainable to Apple.

Right now Apple sells its devices in India exclusively through premium resellers operating on a franchise model. However, it has long been open about wanting to create a series of brick-and-mortar Apple Stores in India. This would include a major flagship store reminiscent of Apple’s Fifth Avenue glass cube retail store in New York City.

Recently it was reported that Apple has developed a short list of locations for its first Apple Store in India. These are located in Mumbai, India’s most populous city. Apple is supposedly picking between several “upscale sites.”

Growing its brand in India

As the second most populous country after China, India is a big potential market for Apple. But it’s not yet managed to turn this into sales. Although people bought upward of 140 million smartphones in India last year, just 1.7 million of them were iPhones.

To try and grow its brand in India, Apple has slashed prices of iPhones locally. It’s also stared building “Made in India” iPhones to appeal to local customers.

Last summer, Apple shook up its strategy by parting 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.

Whether this latest Apple Store glimmer of hopes turns out to be more than a mirage remains to be seen. There’s certainly reason to feel optimistic, though.

Source: Business Standard