Apple will open its first physical retail store in India in 2021, confirmed CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday (26 February).
“Apple would start selling its products online in the country this year and will open its first Apple-branded store there next year,” Cook said at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting in Cupertino.
He also said that the company needed to get approval from the government to go into India on its own rather than with a domestic partner. “I don’t want somebody else to run the brand for us,” he said.
He also called coronavirus ‘a challenge” but didn’t say much about its impact on the company. However, earlier he had written to the company’s employees saying that Apple will not be able to meet the revenue guidance for March 2020.
“Work is starting to resume around the country, but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated. As a result, we do not expect to meet the revenue guidance we provided for the March quarter,” Cook said in a blog post addressing Apple employees.
“We are gradually reopening our retail stores [in China] and will continue to do so as steadily and safely as we can. Our corporate offices and contact centers in China are open, and our online stores have remained open throughout,” Cook added.
Cook is expected to visit India in mid-2020 to take stock of the operations in the country and also advise the teams on any last-minute challenges in the run-up to the launch of the ecommerce business as well as preparations for the Apple Store launch.
Smartphone Makers Strengthen India Focus
In 2019, there was a slow down in the iPhone sales in India, which led to an increase in the price of the product and higher import duties. As per the regulatory filings, Apple’s operations revenue fell 19% from INR 13,049 Cr in FY18 to 10,538 Cr in FY19. The total income had also dropped by 18.5%, from INR 13,098 Cr to INR 10,674 Cr. Apple’s net profit fell by 70% to INR 262 Cr compared to INR 896 Cr in FY18.
India is the second-largest smartphone market, the smartphone maker is thus sharpening its focus. The company is reportedly planning to set up a PCB assembling plant in India to lower down the costs of its smartphones for the second-largest smartphone market.
At present, most of the PCBs of many of Apple’s smartphones are assembled in China by Taiwan’s Wistron. And now, Wistron is reportedly planning to set up a plant near Bengaluru to assemble PCBs of Apple iPhone models. The move will also help promote the Make in India initiative of the Indian government, which also plans to attract smartphone manufacturers by offering them subsidised loans.
The annual production of mobile phones within the country has increased from three million devices in 2014 to eleven million devices in 2017, according to Indian Cellular Association (ICA) estimates and according to a study by Cisco Systems there will be 780 Mn connected smartphones in 2021, compared with 359 Mn in 2016.