Tim Cook opens first Apple store in India

Hong Kong (CNN) Apple CEO Tim Cook is set to open its first physical stores in India this week, marking a milestone for the iPhone maker in the world’s second-largest smartphone market.

Cook was seen personally welcoming customers as staff clapped and cheered at the company’s new store in Mumbai, which opened on Tuesday. He is expected to appear at the inauguration of the second store in Delhi on Thursday.

The move follows the world’s most valuable company’s return to India, tracking its potential in both the consumer market and manufacturing base.

In a statement Monday, Cook pointed to Apple’s ongoing expansion in the country, saying its brick-and-mortar launch coincided with its 25th year of operations.

“India has a beautiful culture and incredible energy,” he said. “We’re excited to build on our long-standing history – supporting our customers, investing in local communities and working together to create a better future.”

Apple’s new store in Mumbai, India.

In a separate statement issued on Monday in this regard, Apple (AAPL) He also shared a glimpse of its new Mumbai store located on a property owned by the Indian president’s conglomerate Reliance Industries. Mukesh Ambani.

The company bills itself as one of the world’s “most energy-efficient” stores, saying the solar panels allow it to run solely on renewable energy.

Apple did not respond to a request for further comment or details about Cook’s visit.

Retail ambitions

Apple of the world The second is larger The smartphone maker, behind Samsung (SSNLF)But its 6% share in the Indian market remains small.

It is dwarfed by the country’s top five vendors, led by Samsung and Chinese smartphone makers Xiaomi and Vivo. Apple products Considered too expensive By many consumers in the country.

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In India, the average salary of a typical full-time employee is 18,585 rupees ($226.5) per month, according to a recent report. Government statistics. In comparison, the iPhone 14 starts at 79,900 rupees ($973.6), while the iPhone SE, the lowest-priced model, starts at 49,900 rupees ($608.2).

Apple’s position is expected to grow, however, as it continues to build its retail presence there as more customers turn to high-end smartphones.

India holds promise for businesses due to its vast population, rising middle class and growth potential of consumers expected to switch from basic cell phones to smartphones, said Hanish Bhatia, Associate Director, Counterpoint Research.

However, until now, Apple sold its products online or through third-party resellers.

That’s because the company, along with other foreign retailers, has been barred for years from setting up shop in the country unless it sources at least 30% of its raw materials locally, forcing them to rely on local partners. The Indian government eased restrictions in 2019.

In 2020, Apple was initiated An online store in India is allowing customers to buy its products and for the first time, customize some devices.

Apple was there before planned It is due to open its first physical store in the country in 2021, albeit derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sanyam Chaurasia, a Canalys mobility analyst, said the stores would allow Apple to bring all its products “under one roof” and guide consumers to purchase.

Apple says the premium category for smartphones is still driven by brick-and-mortar stores that customers can touch. [and] Feel the device,” he told CNN.

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Prasir Singh, senior analyst at Counterpoint Research, said the locations of the new stores are important, with Delhi and Mumbai forming Apple’s top two Indian markets respectively.

For example, Singh said Mumbai typically contributes 10% of overall iPhone sales in India.

Generating Power Station

Apple first started manufacturing iPhones in India in 2017 and has been steady Increases its productivity there.

In recent months, it has significantly expanded production in the country after supply chain disruptions in mainland China caused much of its smartphone production.

Apple increased its Indian exports significantly last year, with the number of iPhones manufactured and shipped from the country increasing by 65% ​​over the previous year, according to Counterpoint.

Apple’s two top contract manufacturers Foxconn and Wistron were the fastest growing manufacturers in India in the last quarter of 2022, the company said.

Last month, Foxconn CEO Young Liu A week passed He met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the country.

In its statement on Monday, Apple said it was working with suppliers to “increase the production of components” along assembly lines for iPhones.

“Apple’s work with Indian suppliers of all sizes supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country,” it said.

The company’s mobile apps business has grown to support more than 1 million developer jobs in the country.

Apple’s increased operations in India are part of a broader trend for companies to diversify their manufacturing away from China.

In recent years, the South Asian country has significantly increased its share of global smartphone production, from less than 10% in 2016 to nearly a fifth this year, according to Counterpoint.

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— CNN’s Manveena Suri contributed to this report.

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