Apple to open first store in India next year

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor

Apple’s (AAPL) expansion into China has proven crucial for the company, with the region bringing in the third largest amount of revenue by geography behind the U.S. and Europe. Now, for its next move, Apple CEO Tim Cook says he’s taking the company to India, with plans for its first brick-and-mortar store set to open in the country of 1.3 billion next year.

“I’m a huge believer in the opportunity in India,” Cook told shareholders following a question on the company’s positioning in the country during its annual shareholders meeting.

“It's not simple and straightforward by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a country with a vibrancy and demographics that are just unparalleled.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company will begin selling products through its own online store in India this year, and open its first physical location in 2021. (Image: Associated Press)

Apple’s devices are currently available in India via third-party sellers, but the company itself has no official retail presence. Its devices, which are expensive for the still developing region, have recently been made available with special incentives from banks that can significantly improve affordability.

The country’s HDFC bank, for instance, has an offer that cuts the price for an iPhone 11 from roughly $900 to $550. That’s especially helpful for a population where, according to The World Bank, 21.9% of people lived in poverty as of 2011, the last year data was available.

According to Cook, Apple’s sales grew 30% year-over-year in India. And with its official online store set to become available in the country this year, followed by a physical Apple Store set to open in Mumbai in 2021, the company should see far greater sales moving forward.

Apple has been working for some time to set up an official presence in India, but previous regulations would have forced the company to work with a partner rather than operate its store on its own. That, Cook told shareholders, was a no-go. With a change in rules, however, the company can now operate its store without having to team with another firm.

Apple has been working to penetrate the Indian market on a number of fronts prior to bringing its online and physical stores to the country. Previously, the company began producing the iPhone 7 to help reduce the final price of the product for consumers, and currently builds the iPhone XR there.

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