Apple India shortlists first flagship store sites

Tech retailer Apple may be close to opening its first retail outlet in India.

People familiar with the plans said Apple India will decide within weeks on a premium location in Mumbai from a shortlist it is examining now. The hardware manufacturer has previously been unable to open in the territory due to regulations governing local sourcing, which prompted Apple to shift some manufacturing to India. The move will also result in the removal of the 20 per cent tariff currently placed on iPhones because they are imported.

While local preferences are for cheaper Chinese handsets, India still represents a vast potential market for Apple as it loses ground in China.

“India is a very important market in the long term,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “It’s a challenging market in the short term, but we’re learning a lot. We plan on going in there with sort of all of our might.”

With India currently being the fastest-growing smartphone market in the world, Apple has placed greater emphasis on gaining market traction there in recent years. A new country chief was named last November after previous efforts yielded disappointing results. The firm now commands an estimated 1 per cent of the country’s smartphone market.

“Its own retail store might be just what Apple requires to reinforce its premium image,” said Rushabh Doshi, an analyst at global research firm Canalys. “A store just before the next launch will be the perfect timing for Apple to restart its Indian growth story.”


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