Apple Stores May Be Coming to India

Apple Store

Apple may be opening its retail stores in India very soon, following the Indian government’s decision to open India’s retail sector to 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI).

Live Mint spoke to an unnamed official from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), who claims that Apple has been keen to enter the Indian market:

“They [Apple] have not told us how many stores they will open. We have made the policy. The doors are now open.”

Indian policies, however, require such investments to source at least 30 percent of the total value of their products from Indian small industries. This obviously doesn’t fit in well with Apple’s strategy, to which the DIPP official said:

“Let Apple finalize its business plan and the investment it wants to make. If they tell us that the 30% sourcing is a problem, at that stage we will look into it.”

Apple, as usual, refused to comment to the issue, when contacted by Live Mint.

The report notes that Apple had tried to open a technical support center in India, back in 2006, but pulled out after “re-evaluating its plans.”

Apple India does hire employees to work at retail outlets which sell Apple products, but none of these outlets are owned by Apple. These non-Apple outlets have a section devoted to Apple products, where these employees can be found, an arrangement very similar to what can be found at Best Buy and Target stores. These “mini-stores” however come nowhere near the true Apple Store experience, which may be why Apple is keen to enter India.

Presently, the only stores in India which exclusively sell Apple products are Reliance’s iStore and RSG Infotech’s Imagine Store. Both these companies are “Premium Resellers” of Apple products. iPhones, on the other hand, aren’t sold directly by Apple, but through its carrier partners Aircel and Airtel.

Analysts predict that Apple setting up their own stores would reduce the pricing of Apple products in India. (The iPhone 4S in India, starts at an exorbitant price of $880.)

Apple sees Asia as a big opportunity to grow, and a setting up stores in India would be a natural step in this direction.

[Live Mint via Fone Arena]