Apple opens its first retail store in India, but customer challenges persist

Image Credit: Aditya in Indra/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook on Tuesday opened the first Apple Store in India in a significant milestone for the iPhone maker nearly 25 years after entering the South Asian market. As Apple steps up its battle against Samsung in Asia’s luxury smartphone market, Cook has scheduled meetings with key business leaders including Reliance’s Mukesh Ambani and Tata Group’s Natarajan Chandrasekaran and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his India trip. The second largest economy.

As Apple ramps up its manufacturing push in India, hoping to become a major player in one of the world’s largest smartphone markets, its first official US store — and second retail location — is set to open in New Delhi on Thursday. Global iPhone assembling hub.

Apple’s iPhones currently account for less than 5% of the Indian smartphone market, but its share has grown in recent years as more Indians buy premium handsets. Apple’s 20,000-square-foot opening at a high-end Reliance-owned shopping mall in the financial capital Mumbai drew hundreds of people queuing to watch Cook open the glass doors.

The establishment of Apple’s first retail stores and the company’s increased efforts to assemble iPhones and other products in India underscore the importance of the South Asian market for the Cupertino-based technology company. According to JP Morgan analysts, Apple is expected to expand its manufacturing capacity in India to produce 25% of all iPhones by 2025.

The company’s increased production is already beginning to bear fruit. According to industry analysts, in the fiscal year ended March, Apple exported smartphones worth $5 billion from India.

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“At Apple, our mission is to empower and empower people around the world,” Cook said in a statement on Monday. “India has a beautiful culture and incredible potential, and we’re excited to build on our long-standing history – supporting our customers, investing in local communities and working together to create a better future with innovation that serves humanity.”

However, the benefits of these initiatives have yet to be fully realized by one important stakeholder: Apple customers.

Despite local iPhone assembly and the company’s contract partners benefiting from New Delhi’s generous incentives, Apple products, including the iPhone, remain prohibitively expensive in India, dismaying analysts who thought Apple would pass on incentives to customers.

Take the base model iPhone 14 Pro as an example. It costs $999 in the US but sells for over $1,550 in India. The iPhone 14 isn’t an isolated example, of course. The second-generation HomePod, which retails for $299 in the US, is priced at $400 in India, significantly more than the first-generation HomePod.

Official iPhone cases cost the same price as some of the country’s best-selling Android smartphones. According to market intelligence firm Counterpoint, Google’s Android commands 98% of the local smartphone market.

Many popular Apple services like News+, Fitness+ and Apple Pay are not available to Indian consumers. The Apple Card and its associated savings account feature in the US are also not available in the Indian market. Apple Maps and Siri offer fewer features for Indian customers. (Google Pay and Walmart’s PhonePe are leading the mobile payments market in India.)

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The reality is that millions of Indian consumers continue to buy Apple products despite feeling like secondary customers. Although Tim Cook’s visit to India once in five years is a significant event, it has yet to bring significant change to Apple enthusiasts in the country.

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