Apple's wait bears fruit with sub-continent's biggest store in Mumbai

Apple is yet to open its own stores in India, and is currently in talks with the government Photo: Reuters
Two of Apple’s three re-seller locations in Worli (Mumbai) may have shut shop recently, but iPhone owners and future buyers need not fret. The firm is set to unveil a 4,500 square foot location at the premium Palladium Mall in the next couple of months — it’s biggest store in the subcontinent, say those familiar with the developments. 

The store falls under the large format Apple Premium Reseller (APR) category. While Apple has been planning the launch of self-owned mega stores in the past, those have been slow to take off because of ambiguity surrounding regulations on foreign direct investment in retail.

Incidentally, Apple kicked off the grand opening of its Apple Carnegie Library — what analysts call its boldest retail experiment yet — in Washington DC on Friday. A historic building funded by Andrew Carnegie, the library was restored by Apple whilst retaining its period architectural look and feel. 

The building acts as an exemplar of the type of impression that Apple aims to accomplish at its new stores globally, which is to create a structure that serves as a community gathering place. Of course it may be a while before the same takes off in India, but the firm will follow the same process here.  

Apple did not respond to calls and messages seeking further information. In the meantime, the strategy for Apple is to enhance its prominence in major cities by opting for stores much larger than its existing formats, ranging from 1,200-2,000 square feet. 

Three more large format APRs are in the pipeline, scheduled for launch across New Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad in the next year and a half, said people in the know. 

Since launching its first retail store Imagine more than a decade ago through Ample Technologies in 2004, Apple has grown to around 150 APR-format stores countrywide. It also retails products in multi-brand format stores such as Croma, Vijay Sales, and others, in over a 1,000 points of sale. Apple also sells its products in India through third-party retailers such as Maple and Nyasa, and online portals such as Amazon and Flipkart. 

Apple is yet to open its own stores in India, and is currently in talks with the government. How long it may be before its own stores open their gates remains unclear but there is momentum on the ground. 

The manufacturer has ramped up local production since 2016 and makes the iPhone SE, 6S and the 7 models at its supplier Wistron’s Bengaluru facility. 

Foxconn, is also expected to begin assembling Apple’s higher-end phones in Chennai sometime later this year, a source confirms.  While Apple’s India range includes iPad, Watch, and MacBooks, iPhones account for the lion’s share of its revenue in India.

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