In early May Patently Apple posted a report wherein Bloomberg wrote that Apple was close to opening a flagship Apple Store in India. The report specifically noted that Apple had "zeroed in on several upscale sites in Mumbai, and plans to make a final decision in the next few weeks, said the people, asking not to be named because the discussions are private." Almost four months have passed and there hasn't been a single word from any source reporting on an Apple Store coming to Mumbai.
Instead, Bloomberg has posted a report today now claiming that "Apple Inc. is poised to start online sales of its devices in India within months, a person familiar with the matter said, benefiting from new rules making the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market more attractive to foreign brands." Will this new Bloomberg source be better than the last?
Such a move would be positive as it would signal that a true flagship store could be on the drawing board for next year. However, rumors of a flagship Apple Store coming to India has been an ongoing rumor-mill joke for years – so it's a little hard to get too excited by this latest rumor.
Bloomberg's latest report further states that "On Wednesday, India eased rules that forced companies such as Apple to source 30% of their production locally -- a requirement the iPhone maker has been lobbying against for years -- to include exports as part of the requirement."
Apple has an insignificant share of the India’s booming smartphone market at present due to its high pricing and Indian taxes that are directly passed on to Indian consumers. Bloomberg adds that "sales of the iconic iPhones slid dramatically in 2018 and early 2019, forcing the phone maker to offer steep discounts on even its latest models.
India with 1.3 billion people is the last remaining large market for smartphone makers, and the new rules pave the way for Apple to control its own retailing and branding, both online and offline. Currently, it sells through franchisee stores and via online retail platforms such as Amazon India and Walmart-owned Flipkart Online Services Pvt." For more on this story, read the Bloomberg report.
While today's news is interesting in that it could lead to bigger and better news for 2020, an online Apple store in India this year is unlikely to move the needle much if any. Apple's competitors like Xiaomi, OnePlus and Samsung are solidly entrenched in India and most have introduced new mid-range phones that are priced far more realistically for the average Indian consumer than Apple's are.
Until Apple lowers its prices on its hardware so as to win on subscription services, it will take Apple years before they even scratch 5% of the Indian market.
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