American multinational technology company, Apple, has announced that its online store will be launched in India on September 23. This will be the company’s first-ever direct retail touchpoint in India. Apple in India currently sells its devices through third-party licensed partners in physical stores or online retailers such as Amazon and Flipkart.
“We’re proud to be expanding in India and want to do all we can to support our customers and their communities. We know our users rely on technology to stay connected, engage in learning, and tap into their creativity. By bringing the Apple Store online to India, we are offering our customers the very best of Apple at this important time,” said Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of Retail + People, in a press release.
It is expected that the Apple Indian online store will sell Apple’s products at a discounted price and several freebies, especially during the upcoming Diwali festive season in India. To give a more personalized experience, Apple in India will also offer personal virtual sessions to all its direct buyers to understand the features of the new Apple product.
The development may come as a surprise for many as to why it took Apple in India so long to launch any retail shop. While the delayed launch in the second-largest telecom market in the world can be ascribed to Apple’s low market share in India, other factors, including the local government guidelines, also went against Apple’s direct retail aspiration in India.
The Indian government recently relaxed the rules that companies must source 30% of components locally to sell their products directly. This easing is a significant relief for Apple, which also plans to launch its physical stores in the country soon.
“Apple has been operating in India for more than 20 years, and its ongoing investment and innovation support almost 900,000 jobs across the country. Apple’s App Design and Development Accelerator in Bengaluru has supported thousands of local developers. Today, apps created by developers in India have become even more critical to everyday life as people seek to stay engaged and connected from home,” the company notes in a press release.
Apple strategy: tackling premium price conundrum
With the number of smartphone users in India estimated to reach around 800 million in 2021, the outlook of India’s smartphone market looks enticing. Many smartphone players, such as Xiaomi, Vivo, and Samsung, have flourished in the Indian market because of their cost-effective products. Apple, however, still has only 2 percent of the market share, with the iPhone maker pricing puts it in a luxurious product section.
Due to the price-conscious nature of the economy, Apple’s premium products in the country are out of the reach of many potential buyers’. And eventually, this low-cost juggernaut doesn’t let Apple increase its relative earnings in India.
Apple has taken several measures to lower the cost of its products in India. In July this year, Apple’s manufacturing partner, Foxconn, started assembling the iPhone 11 in India, a move that helped the company to save about 20% duty that the New Delhi charges for every imported product.
Besides, it has also collaborated with various banks and financial institutions to offer its premium products at an attractive price-points or through cashback offers.
Planning the next steps for growth
Given India’s strong focus on strengthening local manufacturing capabilities, and offering considerable incentives to companies which set-up their industrial units in India, Apple is now refreshing its strategy to boost its prospects here.
Various unsubstantiated reports indicate that Apple is planning to upsurge its manufacturing footprints in the Indian market. This is primarily because of the trade war between the US and China. Many American telecom companies are cutting down their output in China and moving to countries like India, the Philippines, and Malaysia.
Apple is also aware that the COVID-19 disruption may result in an extended delay in iPhone demand from European countries and the US. Hence, it is wise to build new business models and markets to mitigate the future growth crisis. (See: Will Apple bite India’s manufacturing bait )