Thursday, June 20, 2024

Apple stores are almost here; Mumbai to host India’s first

Apple Inc. will open its first flagship retail store in India in Mumbai, marking a significant milestone for the US giant as part of its efforts to ramp up both sales and manufacturing activities in the country.

The highly anticipated Apple store will come up at the Mukesh Ambani-owned Jio World Drive Mall in Mumbai’s upscale Bandra Kurla Complex commercial hub. The company already sells directly to customers through its online platform and third-party resellers.

The launch of the Apple store is part of its efforts to attract India’s burgeoning affluent population and capture a sizeable chunk of the market for premium smartphones, computers and electronic gadgets.

“Inspired by the iconic Kaali Peeli (black and yellow) taxi art unique to Mumbai, the Apple BKC creative includes colourful interpretations of the decals combined with many Apple products and services that will be available for our customers to discover,” the company said on Tuesday, without disclosing when the store will open. Apple’s website also features Apple BKC as one of its store options for consumers to purchase products directly. A second store is likely to come up in New Delhi, people familiar with the development said.

Apple did not respond to queries sent on Wednesday.

The Cupertino, California-based multinational has witnessed a considerable surge in sales across categories in recent years, particularly iPhones, according to IDC data. The tech giant sold approximately 6.7 million units in 2022, compared to 4.8 million in 2021 and 2.7 million in 2020. Apple’s unique brand experience through its stores is expected to appeal to the premium consumer segment in India.

“While Apple has taken time for its retail store foray in India, it makes sense now more than ever. The premium Indian consumer is maturing and spending more, especially at the premium end, which makes India the next big growth market in the next decade for Apple,” said Navkendar Singh, associate vice president of devices research at IDC India, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Like all Apple stores globally, the Mumbai store will offer a range of products and services, including the latest iPhone models, such as the iPhone 14, MacBooks, iPads, AirPods, Apple Watches and Apple TVs. Apple’s trade-in programme will also be available to Indian consumers at the store, using which consumers can exchange an iPhone, an iPad, an Apple Watch or Mac at the Apple Store for credit on their next purchase.

Analysts said that Apple’s decision to proceed with its owned stores in India was tantamount to India becoming a strategic market for the iPhone maker, where it has seen sales of its pricey smartphones surge over the past couple of years.

Apple has identified India as a significant market as it increases market share in the premium phones category and as the country emerges as a key manufacturing alternative to China, with the Indian government doling out incentives for iPhone contract manufacturers such as Foxconn, Pegatron and Wistron.“The Apple-owned retail stores are a key pillar in Apple India’s playbook to win in a strategic growth market. The premium smartphone segment in India continues to be immune to macro-economic pressures and has been growing in double digits,” said Prabhu Ram, head of the industry intelligence group at researcher at CyberMedia Research.

Apple has been selling in India for years through its authorised resellers, but direct offline retail continues to be key in a large market like India, where Apple would seek to replicate the famed Apple retail experience. This would steer greater market growth in the years ahead, Ram added.

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