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Apple to soon open 2-3 offline retail stores and an online retail store in India

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Apple plans to set up up to three brick-and-mortar outlets in India besides an online store as the iPhone maker looks to further cement its position in one of the world’s largest smartphone markets.

According to sources privy to the development, Apple has conveyed to the government its plans to set up physical as well as an online store, in line with its ‘global experience’ centres for Apple-branded products.

The move comes at a time when global smartphone manufacturers have reiterated their commitment to the Indian market and are looking to significantly ramp up their manufacturing capabilities in the country.

Apple, which works with Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron in India, currently makes iPhone 6S and 7 here. One of the sources said Apple is looking at assembling more models in the country. Apple did not respond to a query on this issue.

Representational image. Image: Reuters

In a major push to single-brand retail, the government last week had relaxed FDI norms, offering players more flexibility on local sourcing norms. It also did away a provision that required companies to mandatorily set up a brick-and-mortar store before getting into online retail trading.

(Also read: Apple, Oppo and others committed to long-term investment in India after FDI relaxation)

Following the announcement, Apple had said it is keen on offering online and in-store experiences to Indian users that are at par with its global standards and aims to open its maiden retail store in India.

While the company has remained mum on the locations of its stores, reports suggest that Mumbai could become home to India’s maiden Apple retail store.

India is looking to galvanise smartphone manufacturing and position itself as a global hub, dishing out incentives to sweeten the deal for international brands.

Amid growing concerns around US-China trade war, India now has an opportunity to woo companies that had so far concentrated their manufacturing operations in China.

The government has been engaged in a dialogue with key players to understand their concerns and requirements.

A recent report by industry body IAMAI had pointed out that India’s mobile manufacturing lacks scale and depth despite its ambition to become global production hub, and the country needs to “think big” by manufacturing at scale, producing high-end phones, and incentivising exports.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) report had also noted that the global handsets market is worth about $467 billion (about Rs 32 lakh crore), and this demand is being met almost entirely by China, Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan.

The same report stated that in 2018-19, India exported mobile handsets worth $1.4 billion compared to $2.7 billion in 2012-13.

The production of mobile handsets had reached 225 million units in 2017-18 and India has the potential to manufacture one billion handsets annually, it had said.

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