Apple Inc. is poised to open an online store for the 1st time in the fast-growing smartphone market of India next month, as per a person with knowledge of the matter, taking advantage of a relaxation of once-strict prohibitions against foreign direct retail.
The online store will be all set for operations just ahead of the festivals Dussehra and Diwali spending season, according to the person, who asked not to be named discussing confidential plans. The iPhone maker, which lobbied New Delhi for years to get around regulations that force companies such as Apple to source 30 percent of local components, had originally planned to start online sales within a months after the government relaxed the rule last year. Those plans were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
India’s 1.3 billion people represent a large, under-served smartphone market that is becoming an increasingly important focus for Apple even as the pandemic raged this year. The iPhone maker, which has just made history by surpassing $2 trillion in market value, is boosting investments in the South Asian country to reduce its dependence on China both as a market and manufacturing base amid escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing.
A California-based company, Cupertino, also plans to open a second brick-and-mortar store in the technology hub of Bangalore, following an outlet in Mumbai that will be its 1st physical location in the country, in accordance to the people with knowledge of the matter. Next year the iPhone makers 1st physical store will open in the plush Mumbai neighborhood of BKC, although, the people said, it’s already scouted nearly half a million square feet of space right in the heart of Bangalore near Minsk Square, named after its sister city in Belarus. Apple did not respond to an email seeking comments on its renewed retail push in India.
At present Apple offers its devices in India through stores owned by franchise partners and through online platforms including Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.-owned Flipkart Online Retails Services Pvt. Selling via its own stores and through its website could help the company control branding and win customer loyalty while leveling the field with competitors like China’s OnePlus and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co.
Alongside the expansion of its retail presence in India, the Cupertino, California-based device maker has been assembling its newest handsets, the iPhone SE and the iPhone 11, in the country through its manufacturing partners Foxconn Technology Group and Wistron Corp. Another assembly partner, Pegatron Corp., will set up its 1st plant in India. Apple dominated India’s premium smartphone segment with a market share of 49 percent during the second quarter, according to researcher IDC. The newer iPhone 11 and the iPhone XR together comprised 28 percent of high-end shipments, indicating that demand for pricier iPhones is growing which is a contrast to a couple of years ago when cheaper and old models accounted for a big chunk of iPhone sales.