On April 18th, 2023, Apple CEO Tim Cook opened the company's first retail store in India, located in Mumbai's upscale neighborhood. The opening event featured local music and folk dance performances, attracting people from all over India. Mr. Cook greeted customers and took selfies with some of them, while employees clapped and cheered. A second store opening in the capital Delhi was scheduled for the following day.
New Mumbai Store
The Mumbai store's design was inspired by the city's iconic black-and-yellow taxis. Until now, Apple products in India have been available only online or through a network of resellers. However, with the new retail push, Apple aims to deepen its presence in India, the world's second-largest smartphone market. The iPhone remains an aspirational product in India's price-sensitive market, where over 95% of smartphones run on Google's Android platform.
Reducing China Dependencies
Apple is diversifying its supply chains away from China, and India is rising as a manufacturing base for the iPhone, accounting for 5% of total iPhone production. While the new stores are an important branding strategy, experts say they won't have an immediate impact on Apple's sales in India. However, it is a good time for Apple to invest in India's growing "premium smartphone" market, which includes mobiles costing 40,000 rupees or more.
According to technology analyst Navkendar Singh, "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."
India Years in the Making
Apple's attempts to open physical retail stores in India have been ongoing, but their original plans for 2021 were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr. Cook's visit to India is his first in seven years, with his last visit in 2016 when the company was beginning to scale up operations in the country.
Reports suggest Mr. Cook is expected to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and deputy IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar as part of his visit. However, there has been no official announcement from Mr. Modi's office regarding this meeting.
In conclusion, the opening of Apple's first retail store in India marks a significant milestone in the company's history. It represents a move towards a deeper retail push in India, diversifying its supply chains, and investing in the country's growing premium smartphone market. While it may not have an immediate impact on sales, it is a valuable branding strategy for Apple, which seeks to give its premium consumers a premium experience.
Technomancer is a science and tech enthusiast who enjoys writing about software and AI and other tech topics.