Apple CEO Tim Cook recently opened the tech company’s first retail store in India, in Mumbai’s financial sector.
Mr. Cook was spotted waving to visitors and opening the store’s doors as employees applauded and celebrated.
He also spoke with customers who came in and posed for photos with a few of them.
On Thursday, Mr. Cook will also attend the launch of a second store in Delhi.
According to reports, people from all over India attended the inauguration ceremony, which featured local music and traditional dance acts.
The Mumbai store’s design, located in a posh neighborhood, was inspired by the city’s ubiquitous black-and-yellow taxis.
Until today, Apple products in India were only available online or through a huge network of dealers.
The launching of the new outlets coincides with Apple’s efforts to expand its retail presence in India, the world’s second-largest smartphone market. In the price-sensitive Indian market, where more than 95% of smartphones run on Google’s Android platform, the iPhone remains aspirational.
As Apple diversifies its supply chains away from China, India is emerging as a manufacturing base for the iPhone. India is currently responsible for 5% of overall iPhone production.
Yet, experts believe that while the stores are a significant branding tactic, they will have a limited influence on Apple’s sales in India. Others have said that now is a good moment for Apple to invest in India’s booming “premium smartphone” sector, which refers to mobiles priced at 40,000 rupees (£451; $558).
Apple has long attempted to establish physical retail locations in India. However, its initial plans for 2021 were thwarted by the Covid-19 epidemic.
Mr. Cook’s first visit to India in seven years – Apple CEO Tim Cook last visited in 2016, when the tech giant was only starting to expand its business there.
On Monday, he posted a photo of himself and Bollywood star Madhuri Dixit enjoying vada pav, a traditional Indian delicacy.
According to reports, Mr. Cook is also likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Deputy IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar during his tour. However, Mr. Modi’s office made no public statement on the matter.
Can new Apple outlets help the tech giant prevail in India?
Apple is planning to build its first stores in India, more than 20 years after its products first appeared in the country.
The two stores, in the capital of Delhi and Mumbai, India’s financial hub, will open later this month. According to Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook is expected to visit India next week for the occasion.
The Mumbai store’s unusual, colorful design – inspired by the city’s black-and-yellow taxis – and the buzz surrounding the inauguration has piqued the interest of many Indians. However, in the price-sensitive Indian market, the iPhone remains aspirational; more than 95% of cellphones rely on Google’s Android platform.
Before, Indians could purchase Apple devices in the nation either online or through a wide network of “premium resellers,” as the firm refers to them. As a result, there has been some concern about how the ability to sell items directly to customers in India – the world’s second-largest smartphone market – may affect its prospects in the country.
It also comes when India is rapidly expanding as an iPhone manufacturing base.
Yet, while the new outlets will be crucial branding tools, other experts believe they will have little impact on Apple’s market dominance in India.
Apple has long attempted to create physical retail outlets in India, but the Covid-19 outbreak thwarted its first plans for 2021.
For years, the firm had urged the Indian government to relax laws requiring foreign-owned single-brand stores to source 30% of the value of products sold in India from domestic vendors. However, Apple has maintained that the figure could have been more achievable in the short term because it virtually manufactured all its products in China.
In 2019, the Indian government loosened several investment regulations, exempting companies selling “cutting-edge” items from the need, such as Apple’s iPhones and iPads. Mr. Cook had remarked the following year, while announcing Apple’s ambitions to create a physical store in India that the company was waiting for authorization from the Indian government “to go in there ourselves” rather than with a domestic partner. “I don’t want someone else running the brand for us,” he explained to shareholders.
The following year, Apple opened an online store in India. According to the corporation, the website, which allows consumers to request bespoke products, received a “fantastic response.”
According to Mr. Roy, Apple’s intention to create physical stores in India could be the next stage in the company’s branding strategy.
These stores are projected as the physical symbol of the Apple brand itself, being spacious, meticulously curated, and full of creative displays and clever designs. “The anticipation of visiting these establishments is an experience in and of itself,” Mr. Roy explains.
He goes on to say that opening an Apple shop in India is a sign that the country is “now big enough for Apple to be interested in developing business here” in more ways than one.
In 2017, Apple began manufacturing a lower-end iPhone model in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu. It began manufacturing its latest iPhone 14 model in the nation last year, accounting for 5% of overall iPhone production.
Apple has relied on China’s sophisticated manufacturing network to build its products for many years. But, its reliance on the country was tested when Beijing announced its “zero-Covid” policy, which resulted in months of industry lockouts and major supply chain disruptions.
Experts expect that by 2025, India will produce one-quarter of all iPhones produced by Apple. In January, federal commerce minister Piyush Goyal stated that Apple already manufactures 5-7% of its products in India and that “they are eyeing a 25% increase in production.”
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According to Navkendar Singh, a technology expert at research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), the timing of the introduction is particularly favorable for the company 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 refers to mobiles that cost 40,000 rupees (£451; $558) or more. Samsung had a 21% share.