Can Apple Win Over India Through Its New Stores

Apple is now preparing to build its first stores in India, more than 20 years after its products initially made their way onto Indian marketplaces.

Later this month, the two stores—one each in India’s capital Delhi and Mumbai, its financial center—will be officially opened. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, is reportedly planning to travel to India for the event next week, according to Bloomberg.

Many Indians are excited by the Mumbai store’s unusual, vibrant design, which was motivated by the black-and-yellow taxis that zoom through the city. In the price-conscious Indian market, the iPhone remains an aspirational product; more than 95% of cellphones use Google’s Android operating system.

A massive network of what the firm refers to as “premium resellers” had hitherto been the only way for Indians to purchase Apple devices in the nation. Thus, there has been some discussion regarding whether the company’s success here will be impacted by its ability to sell goods directly to clients in India, the second-largest smartphone market in the world.

It also occurs at a time when India is rapidly expanding as an iPhone manufacturing hub.

Although the new outlets will be significant branding tools, some experts claim that they won’t have much of an impact on Apple’s market share in India.

“The whole idea of opening an Apple store is to showcase the range of products available in the Apple ecosystem. But most of these products are too high end for a country like India where a bulk of the market is not in the premium segment,” says Prasanto K Roy, who has worked extensively on issues of technology and public policy.

Apple goods are currently sold in reseller stores and online stores in India.

Despite Apple’s repeated attempts, the Covid-19 epidemic delayed the company’s initial plans to build physical retail outlets in India for 2021.

The company had fought the Indian government to loosen the limits for years, which required that foreign-owned single-brand merchants buy 30% of the value of the products they offered in India from domestic vendors. Since almost all of its devices are made in China, Apple had argued that the figure was unlikely—at least in the near future.

The Indian government loosened several investment regulations in 2019 and exempted businesses that sell “cutting-edge” products, including Apple’s iPhones and iPads, from the need. The following year, Cook had stated that the business had been waiting for authorisation from the Indian government “to go in there ourselves” rather than through a domestic partner. At the time, Apple had announced plans to create a physical store in India. He said to shareholders, “I don’t want someone else running the brand for us.

Apple opened its online store in India the next year. According to the business, there has been a “great reaction” to the website that enables people to request customized products.

According to Roy, Apple’s move to establish physical stores in India may be the next development in the company’s branding strategy. It’s unlikely that this will have a significant impact on Apple sales, he continues, but it is nonetheless a significant achievement that will enable Apple to provide Indian customers with the full Apple experience.

These stores are portrayed as the physical representation of the Apple brand itself since they are large, well maintained, and filled with beautiful displays and smart designs. “The excitement to visit these stores is an experience of its own,” explains Roy.

He continues by saying that opening an Apple shop in India is also a declaration that the nation is “now big enough for Apple to actually be interested in expanding operations here” in a number of different ways.

In the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Apple initially started producing a budget iPhone in 2017. It started manufacturing the iPhone 14 here last year, which currently represents for 5% of all iPhone output.

Photographers may be seen in the Jio World Drive mall at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai snapping photos of the soon-to-be-opened Apple’s first company-owned store in India.

Apple had long relied on China’s advanced manufacturing infrastructure to supply the majority of its products. However, Beijing’s “zero-Covid” policy, which caused months of industry lockouts and significant supply chain disruptions, put a pressure on the nation’s reliance on it.

“India’s Holy Grail would be to get a big iconic brand like Apple to move from China to India. And it has done it with Apple,” Roy says.

By 2025, a quarter of all iPhones produced by the corporation may be made in India, according to analysts. Apple presently manufactures 5-7% of its goods in India, according to federal commerce minister Piyush Goyal, who also stated in January that the company “is targeting to go up to 25% of their manufacturing.”

The timing of the introduction, according to Navkendar Singh, a technology expert at the research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), is also favorable for the business because the premium market in India is expanding.

According to IDC data, Apple had a 60% market share in the Indian “premium smartphone” market in 2022, which includes mobiles that cost 40,000 rupees or more. Samsung had a 21% share.

“Apple is doing well across categories. When you launch an Apple store you’re basically giving a premium experience to your premium consumers. It might not pull up sales but it definitely pulls more people into the Apple ecosystem.”

Singh continues, “Also, even if the store doesn’t start making money in the first year, Apple can absorb losses.”

“The real challenge will be to pull away consumers from retail stores to these flagship centres without alienating the partner sellers,” he says.

“Otherwise it’s a good story. They finally understood that India’s premium market is growing, so why not be serious about it.”

(Adapted from

Categories: Economy & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Regulations & Legal, Strategy, Sustainability

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