COVID pushes back opening of India’s first Apple Store

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India Apple Online Store
In 2021, there are no retail Apple Stores in India.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s long struggle to open a retail store in India isn’t over yet. The iPhone-maker had planned to throw open the doors of a brick-and-mortar location in Mumbai in 2021, but it’s now reportedly been delayed by COVID-19.

Apple Store India: One step forward, one step back

Way back in 2019, Apple picked Mumbai to be the location for its premiere retail store in the South Asian country. At that time, the plan was to open in September 2020. But a few months later, the timing changed to 2021.

And now the opening has been further delayed. The India Express reported on Friday, “The launch of Apple’s first offline store in India, announced for this year for Mumbai, is delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the company confirmed.”

It’s not clear if this means the opening is only delayed until later in the year, or if it won‘t happen until 2022.

India had a huge surge of COVID-19 cases in late spring, but it has mostly receded. Nevertheless, it seems Apple is being cautious for its retail store.

Important to Apple’s growth

India makes up only a small percentage of iPhone purchases despite its huge population. The last quarter of 2020 was the first Apple shipped more than a million handsets in the country during a three-month period, for example.

The US company’s inability to sell directly to customers didn’t help grow those numbers. The Indian government put the restriction in place to force Apple to manufacture more iPhones in India. So for many years Apple had to depend on third-party resellers.

But a deal was worked out and direct online sales of iPhone began in the country in 2020. The wait for a a flagship Apple Store in India goes on, though.