It has been in the making for a while, but Apple could very well be unveiling its online store specially for India, sometime next months. This has been in the works for a while, but there were possible delays along the way because of foreign direct retail regulations in the country, which have since been eased recently, as well as the Coronavirus pandemic. In terms of the timing, this could work well for Apple because the launch of the India online store could come ahead of the expected rush of sales before the Diwali festive period.
This comes at a time when there is tremendous excitement around the fact that Apple is pushing forward with the iPhone manufacturing in India. At this time, the latest generations of the Apple iPhone SE as well as the iPhone 11 series are being manufactured in India. It is being seen as a boost to the Make in India initiative. Bloomberg also reports that Apple may open its first physical store next year in the Mumbai, specifically in the BKC area. It is also believed that the tech giant has scouted almost half a million square feet of space in the heart of Bangalore near Minsk Square, named after its sister city in Belarus.
Apple currently sells its line-up of hardware, including the iPhone SE, iPhone 11, iPhone XR MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, Apple Watch and AirPods via franchise partners who have physical stores across India and also on online platforms including Amazon.in and Flipkart. The biggest advantage for Apple selling via its own online store in India is that it can take control of the experience the user gets right from the time they land on the online store, till the time they unbox the product they have purchased after it is delivered at their home. At this time, Apple has to rely on franchise partners for delivering that experience, which may not always be up to the mark.
The online store for India will also put Apple on a level playing field with rivals including Samsung and OnePlus. They have their own online stores in India.
Does that mean your next purchase of an Apple product from the India online store will mean reduced prices? Unlikely. Apple doesn’t do heavy discounting at its online stores, in whichever countries it has a presence with an online shopfront. However, we do see discounts doing rounds on the US and the UK stores, for instance, around the festive shopping season before the end of the calendar year—and a similar strategy could be applied around the Diwali sale period this year.
Earlier, the Government of India’s rules for retail stated that as much as 30% of the components must be sourced locally. That rule was relaxed last year.
It is not clear at this time whether you will also be able to also buy gadgets and accessories from Apple certified and recommended partners. For instance, on the US store, Apple also offers products from Linksys, Netgear, Mophie, Belkin, Native Union and more.
Apple, even though it doesn’t have a direct retail presence in India, has still being doing well with numbers. According to research firm IDC, in Q2 2020, Apple dominated India’s premium smartphone segment with 49% market share. The latest iPhone 11 series as well as the iPhone XR combined for 28% of those high-end shipments, which means users are spending on higher spec iPhones. Apple competes with Samsung and OnePlus in the premium smartphone space in India.
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The opening of the store could coincide with the significant push that the Make in India initiative is getting at Apple, and we could see a large chunk of the products on the online store and in physical stores with the Made in India badge. At this time, the latest generations of the Apple iPhone SE as well as the iPhone 11 series are being manufactured in India. It is being seen as a boost to the Make in India initiative. Apple is also making the iPhone 11 in India, at the Foxconn plant near Chennai. It is the first time Apple is making its latest flagship phone in the country. The other iPhones being manufactured and assembled in India include the iPhone XR. This Made in India push could be a crucial as we head into the festive season sales that lie ahead. Apple’s partners in India, Foxconn and Wistron are now manufacturing and assembling the iPhones at their facilities in the country.