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One in Mumbai, another in Delhi | Apple Stores Have Finally Arrived In India, But What's In It For You?

25 years after the tech giant was introduced in India, Apple has launched its first two stores in the subcontinent, targeting the cities of Mumbai & Delhi.

India Business
| Written By
Anmol Singla

Image: AP/Republic/Twitter

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, greeted customers at the company's first store in the national capital of India on Thursday (April 20). The new store, located at Select Citywalk Mall in New Delhi, features a unique design inspired by Delhi's many gates. However, it is smaller than the Apple store opened in Mumbai at Jio World Drive in the Bandra Kurla Complex on Tuesday.

According to sources, the Apple Saket store in Delhi is half the size of the Mumbai store, and the company will pay a portion of total sales from the Mumbai store as rent, or Rs 40 lakh per month, whichever is higher. The Saket store has more than 70 highly skilled retail team members, who collectively speak more than 15 languages and have come from 18 states of India.

The tech giant has been operating in India for more than 25 years, selling its products through authorized retailers and a website that was launched a few years ago. Nevertheless, the company's attempts to open a flagship store were delayed due to regulatory hurdles and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why go to an Apple store?

Purchasing a genuine Apple product was never a problem in the Indian subcontinent, whether it was online or through a certified reseller, so what's in store for a customer at the two Apple stores in India. Simply, it's all about the experience and the customer service.

Apple goodie bag

(Image: A look at the goodie bag given by Apple to its customers at Apple Saket, New Delhi on Thursday | Republic)

The Apple BKC store in Mumbai, located in Jio World Drive Mall, draws inspiration from the unique 'Kaali Peeli' (black & yellow) taxi art found only in Mumbai. The store features vibrant interpretations of the decals, and customers will have access to a variety of Apple products and services.

For customers looking to purchase premium Apple products, the consumer experience is paramount. Apple Retail Stores, managed directly by Apple, offer a unique proposition. They boast aesthetically pleasing designs, house the complete Apple product lineup, and provide professional guidance from knowledgeable staff.

This is why customers prefer purchasing iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks from Apple Retail Stores over resellers such as Invent, iMore, organised retail chains like Croma and Reliance Retail, or nearby electronics stores.

The level of customer service varies significantly between an Apple Store and a premium reseller store. At an Apple Store, customers receive personalised attention throughout the day, and they can consult a 'Genius' for any questions about their newly purchased device.

On the other hand, at a reseller store, customers need to schedule an appointment since there may not always be a technician available to address product-related issues. Additionally, customers often have to leave their device at the store for several days until the specialised technical service team attends to their concerns.

When it comes to product availability, there is a distinct difference between an Apple Store and a reseller store. In an Apple Store, customers can typically find the latest Apple products in stock, ready for immediate purchase.

In contrast, reseller stores may or may not have the desired product in stock, and may need to order it from a distributor or directly from Apple. This often results in significantly longer delivery times, which can be frustrating for customers who are eager to get their hands on a new device.

Cook meets PM Modi with plans of expansion

During his visit, Tim Cook met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the iPhone manufacturer looks to invest more in India, the world's second-largest smartphone market. According to government sources, the company plans to double its employment base at its contract manufacturers in India to around 2 lakh soon.

This was Cook's first trip to India in seven years. In 2016, during his last visit, the tech giant was just beginning to scale up operations in the country. Now, looking to replicate what China did for Apple's business in the last 15 years, the company is eyeing India's massive market with an expanding middle class to power sales growth and potentially make it a home base for the production of millions of Apple devices.

Cook also met with Union Minister for Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw and Minister of State (MoS) for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar. As per sources, he sought government support to widen its components supplier base in India. Cook also discussed manufacturing facilities and app design and development accelerator in Bengaluru with both the ministers.

Apple ready for India, but China still a major player

Citing Counterpoint, AP reported that data shows that from 2020 to 2022, the tech giant was able to increase its market share in the smartphone market in India from around 2% to 6%. Although there was an increase in market share, the high cost of the iPhone remains a significant hurdle for the majority of Indians.

As a result, iPhone sales in the country have mainly been driven by a relatively small group of upper-middle-class and wealthy individuals who have disposable incomes. This segment of buyers is reportedly growing, and Counterpoint data indicates that Apple has taken over 65% of the "premium" smartphone market in India, which includes devices priced at 30,000 rupees ($360) and above.

In September 2022, Apple announced that it would begin producing its iPhone 14 in India, which was seen as a victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration, as it has been advocating for an increase in local manufacturing since 2014. Apple began manufacturing in India in 2017 with the iPhone SE and has continued to assemble several other iPhone models in the country since then.

Although most of Apple's smartphones and tablets are assembled by contractors with factories in China, the company has been considering the possibility of relocating some production to Southeast Asia or other locations due to repeated COVID-19 shutdowns that disrupted its global supply chain.

According to Counterpoint Research, India currently produces nearly 13 million iPhones annually, up from less than 5 million three years ago. However, this number only represents approximately 6% of iPhones produced globally and is still significantly lower than the number produced in China, which accounts for roughly 90% of iPhone manufacturing worldwide.

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