Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

NEW DELHI — Apple Inc. opened its first flagship retailer in India in a much-anticipated launch Tuesday that highlights the corporate’s rising aspirations to increase within the nation it additionally hopes to show into a possible manufacturing hub.

The corporate’s CEO Tim Prepare dinner posed for images with just a few of the 100 or so Apple followers who had lined up outdoors the sprawling 20,000-square-foot retailer in India’s monetary capital, Mumbai, its design impressed by the long-lasting black-and-yellow cabs distinctive to the town. A second retailer will open Thursday within the nationwide capital, New Delhi.

“India has such a stupendous tradition and an unbelievable vitality, and we’re excited to construct on our long-standing historical past,” Prepare dinner mentioned in an announcement earlier.

The tech large has been working in India for greater than 25 years, promoting its merchandise by way of licensed retailers and the web site it launched just a few years in the past. However regulatory hurdles and the pandemic delayed its plans to open a flagship retailer.

The brand new shops are a transparent sign of the corporate’s dedication to put money into India, the second-largest smartphone market on the planet the place iPhone gross sales have been ticking up steadily, mentioned Jayanth Kolla, analyst at Convergence Catalyst, a tech consultancy. The shops present “how a lot India issues to the current and the way forward for the corporate,” he added.

For the Cupertino, California-based firm, India’s sheer measurement makes the market particularly encouraging.

About 600 million of India’s 1.4 billion folks have smartphones, “which suggests the market remains to be under-penetrated and the expansion prospect is big,” mentioned Neil Shah, vice chairman of analysis at know-how market analysis agency Counterpoint Analysis.

Between 2020 and 2022, the Silicon Valley firm has gained some floor within the smartphone market within the nation, going from nearly 2% to capturing 6%, in accordance with Counterpoint information.

Nonetheless, the iPhone’s hefty price ticket places it out of attain for almost all of Indians.

As a substitute, iPhone gross sales within the nation have thrived among the many sliver of upper-middle-class and wealthy Indians with disposable incomes, a phase of consumers that Shah says is rising. Based on Counterpoint information, Apple has captured 65% of the “premium” smartphone market, the place costs vary up from 30,000 rupees ($360).

In September, Apple introduced it could begin making its iPhone 14 in India. The information was hailed as a win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authorities, which has pushed for ramping up native manufacturing ever since he got here to energy in 2014.

Apple first started manufacturing from India in 2017 with its iPhone SE and has since continued to assemble a variety of iPhone fashions from the nation.

Most of Apple’s smartphones and tablets are assembled by contractors with factories in China, however the firm began doubtlessly transferring some manufacturing to Southeast Asia or different locations after repeated shutdowns to struggle COVID-19 disrupted its world circulate of merchandise.

“Huge firms acquired a jolt, they realized they wanted a backup technique outdoors of China — they couldn’t threat one other lockdown or any geopolitical rift affecting their enterprise,” mentioned Kolla.

At present, India makes near 13 million iPhones yearly, up from lower than 5 million three years in the past, in accordance with Counterpoint Analysis. That is about 6% of iPhones made globally — and solely a small slice compared to China, which nonetheless produces round 90% of them.

Final week, India’s Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal mentioned the federal government was in common contact with Apple to assist their enterprise right here and that the corporate had plans to have 25% of their world manufacturing come out of India within the subsequent 5 years.

The problem for Apple, in accordance with Shah of Counterpoint, is that the uncooked supplies are nonetheless coming from outdoors India so the tech firm might want to both discover a native provider or convey their suppliers, primarily based in international locations like China, Japan and Taiwan, nearer to drive up manufacturing.

Nonetheless, he is optimistic this goal could possibly be met, particularly with labor prices being decrease in India and the federal government wooing firms with enticing subsidies to spice up native manufacturing.

“For Apple, all the pieces is about timing. They don’t enter a market with full circulate till they really feel assured about their prospects. They’ll see the chance right here at this time — it’s a win-win scenario,” Shah mentioned.


This story corrects the spelling of the Apple CEO’s identify. It’s Tim Prepare dinner, not Tim Cooke.

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