Apple has reportedly narrowed down the list of locations for its foray into the retail market in India, with Mumbai in its sights.
According to a report in Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the plans, Apple is looking at several high-end sites in Mumbai and should choose the location in the next few weeks. The sources said the spots are on par with the locations of Apple’s iconic retail stores in New York, London and Paris.
Apple hadn’t been able to operate in India because it didn’t meet local source requirements but is moving manufacturing to the country and has been in talks with the government about expanding its retail footprint in India. At the end of last year, Reuters reported Apple had tapped an India unit of Foxconn to make high-end iPhones in the country. Production was expected to start in the early part of 2019. Apple already has an assembly presence in India — but only for its cheaper SE and 6S models via its deal with Wistron’s local unit based in the Bengaluru tech hub.
The push into India comes at a time when Apple is seeing lackluster iPhone sales in China, one of the biggest markets for mobile phones. In India, it hasn’t been able to take off like elsewhere in part because consumers favor cheaper mobile handsets from Chinese manufacturers. Improving its business in India has been a goal for Apple, with the company’s Chief Executive Tim Cook recently saying India is important for Apple’s long term strategy. Cook did acknowledge it’s a tough market but one Apple is learning from.
Despite that, Bloomberg pointed to findings by market research firm Canalys that shipments of the iPhone in India declined more than 75 percent in the first quarter of this year. As of the first quarter, it has a market share of around 1 percent in the country. Rushabh Doshi, an analyst at Canalys, told the news outlet that owning a store in India may be what the firm needs to boost sales. If Apple can open a location there right before it launches a new product, that could launch its growth in India, he said.