Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has launched the company’s first retail store in India in the financial capital Mumbai. Videos showed Mr Cook waving to customers and opening the store’s doors as employees clapped and cheered.
He also greeted customers who visited the store and posed for selfies with some of them.
Mr Cook will also attend the opening of a second store in the capital Delhi on Thursday.
Reports say that people from across India came to Mumbai to participate in the opening event, which also featured local music and folk dance performances.
The design of the Mumbai store – which is located in an upscale neighbourhood – has been inspired by the black-and-yellow taxis that are ubiquitous in the city.
Until now, Apple products have been available in India either online or through a vast network of resellers.
The new stores come at a time when Apple is trying to deepen its retail push in India, the world’s second largest smartphone market. The iPhone is still an aspirational product in the price-sensitive Indian market, where more than 95% of smartphones run on Google’s Android platform.
India is also rising as a manufacturing base for the iPhone as Apple diversifies its supply chains away from China. India now accounts for 5% of total iPhone production.
But experts say that while the stores are an important branding strategy, they won’t have an immediate impact on Apple’s sales in India. Others, however, have pointed out that it’s a good time for Apple to invest in India’s growing “premium smartphone” market – which refers to mobiles that cost 40,000 rupees (£451; $558) or more.
“When you launch an Apple store you’re basically giving a premium experience to your premium consumers. It might not pull up sales but it definitely pulls more people into the Apple ecosystem,” technology analyst Navkendar Singh told the BBC.
Apple has long tried to open physical retail stores in India. Its original plans for 2021 were derailed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is Mr Cook’s first trip to India in seven years – the Apple CEO last visited in 2016 when the tech giant was just beginning to scale up operations in the country.
On Monday, he shared a picture of himself eating a vada pav – a popular Indian snack – with Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit.
Reports say Mr Cook is also expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and deputy IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar as part of his visit. There was no official announcement from Mr Modi’s office regarding this.
Source : BBC