Bullish on its growth in India, Apple is set to open its first branded retail store in the country in 2021, company CEO Tim Cook has told shareholders.
Speaking to investors at the annual shareholder meeting at Apple Park in Cupertino, California on Wednesday, Cook confirmed the company will open its first offline retail outlet in the world's second biggest smartphone market next year, reports Apple Insider.
"I don't want somebody else to run the brand for us," he was quoted as saying.
"We wouldn't be a very good partner in retail. We like to do things our way," the Apple CEO mentioned.
Apple currently has third-party reseller outlets to sell its devices in the country.
There are reports that Apple has leased a location in Mumbai for its upcoming branded retail store but the company is yet to reveal the location.
Apple's exclusive online store is expected to start functioning in the third quarter this year. The Cupertino-based tech giant is currently selling its devices in India via third-party offline retailers and e-commerce platforms like Flipkart and Amazon.in.
Welcoming the government's decision to ease the 30 per cent local sourcing norm in single-brand retail (SBRT), Apple said last year: "We appreciate the support and hard work by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team to make this possible and we look forward to one day welcoming customers to India's first Apple retail store."
According to Navkendar Singh, Research Director, IDC India, Apple is known for its retail stores, the experience they provide in terms of purchase, staff knowledge and other services.
"Considering the importance of offline as a channel in a diverse country like India, where consumers love to touch, feel and experience the products, the stores are a very important touch-point for any consumer company," Singh told IANS.
The plan for opening owned stores will certainly help Apple in giving a controlled experience of its devices and services as it intends and designed them to be.
"In a third-party retail environment, many such things cannot be controlled by the brand. This will only add to the strong premium positioning Apple enjoys in the country," Singh added.
Apple reached a record 75.6 per cent market share in the fourth quarter of 2019 in India owing to the stellar performance of iPhone 11 and price drop on previous generation models.
Apple registered double-digit growth in India for iPhones in the holiday quarter (October-December period), Cook announced in January. Apple also registered a good growth in wearables in India.
The iPad 2018 model also helped Apple register strong growth in India in 2019.
Going forward, thrust on manufacturing high-end iPhones locally along with the first-ever flagship retail store would give Apple a booster in the price-sensitive smartphone market in 2020, according to industry experts.