Bloomberg: Apple to Open India Online Store Next Month

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Apple is preparing to open its first online store in India next month, according to a new report today from Bloomberg.

Apple Inc. is poised to open an online store for the first time in the fast-growing smartphone market of India next month, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, taking advantage of a relaxation of once-strict prohibitions against foreign direct retail.

The online store will be ready for operations just ahead of the festive Dussehra-Diwali spending season, according to the person, who asked not to be named discussing confidential plans.

Sales of Apple products have long been limited to third-party resellers in India, because of restrictions on foreign companies that require them to source 30 percent of production locally.

In August 2019, India eased these rules keeping Apple from offering its products in first-party stores and an online Apple Store. Apple had originally intended to start online sales within months of the rule change, but the global health crisis reportedly scuppered those plans.

TechCrunch first reported in January that Apple would open an online Apple Store in India to start official direct sales of iPhones, iPads, Macs, and more in the country starting in the third quarter of 2020.

With the rules changed, Apple is also set to begin opening up retail stores in India in the future and already has retail locations in the works. A new store in Mumbai is in development and is set to open next year. Meanwhile, Bloomberg says that Apple has already scouted a location for its second India store, located in Bangalore near Minsk Square.

Even prior to the rule change, Apple was working with the Indian government to get permission to open up stores in India. Over the course of the last few years, Apple started manufacturing some lower-cost ‌iPhone‌ models in India to meet local investment requirements, and has recently started assembling the iPhone SE and the iPhone 11 in the country through manufacturing partners Wistron and Foxconn, respectively.

Apple devices have had low penetration among India’s 1.3 billion population due to high costs from import tariffs, making them limited to buyers the high-end premium market. The rule changes will make Apple devices more affordable to Indian consumers and should therefore see Apple grow its footprint in the country.

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