Apple Inc.’s first store in India opened its doors Tuesday in Mumbai, as the iPhone maker hopes its own retail outlets will help accelerate sales growth in the huge and lucrative market.
Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook officially inaugurated the store, located in an upscale business district in the financial hub of Mumbai, where dozens of staff applauded and a horde of customers lined up outside.
Apple is targeting the country of 1.4 billion to revive global revenue growth and diversify its manufacturing footprint beyond China. The company’s sales in India hit a new high of almost $6 billion in the year through March, highlighting the market’s increasing importance.
Years in the works, Apple was finally allowed to launch outlets in India after meeting regulators’ demands, including a requirement that some of the products sold are locally sourced. With tech demand slowing globally, Apple has identified India’s expanding middle class as an attractive opportunity and it’s also adding local production at an increasing rate.
The company launched its online store in India in 2020 and has also worked with local retail partners. Yet its smartphones and computers have never held more than a minuscule market share due to their high cost.
Only about 4% of India’s nearly 700 million smartphone users have iPhones. Cheaper local brands as well as Chinese and South Korean manufacturers have found more buyers among the cost-conscious shoppers in the world’s second-biggest mobile market.
Following the Mumbai inauguration, Apple is set to open an outlet in New Delhi on Thursday. Apple’s stores serve as key retail and showcase points for the world’s most valuable company, while also often becoming tourist hotspots. They also double as support centers, a potential selling point because it makes product returns and repairs easier.
The retail push is coinciding with Apple expanding its local manufacturing. Apple tripled its production to more than $7 billion of iPhones in India last fiscal year, part of an effort to reduce its reliance on China as tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to escalate.
By Sankalp Phartiyal, with assistance from Menaka Doshi / Bloomberg