The iPhone-maker said in August last year that it was “eager to serve [customers of India] online and in-store with the same experience and care that Apple customers around the world enjoy.”
While the company never shared a firm timeline on when the online and brick-and-mortar stores would be set up in India, it was originally aiming to start the online sales in the country in the first quarter of this year, the source said. (The Q1 launch timeline was first signaled by Bloomberg, which reported that the operations would begin “within months.”)
An Apple spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
The source said the company was still working on the logistics of setting up the store and that the quarter between July and September was the new deadline. Apple CEO Tim Cook would likely plan an India trip for the announcement, the source said.
The company’s first official physical store in India, to be situated in Mumbai, will take an additional few months of time for setting up and might not be ready by this year, the source said.
India, the world’s second largest smartphone market, eased sourcing norms for single-brand retailers last year, paving the way for companies like Apple to open online stores before they set up presence in the brick-and-mortar market.
“Apple has been struggling with online retail for years now. Finally the government adapted their rules to help them launch their own online store. But now they are unable to launch it,” an industry executive said on the condition of anonymity.
Currently, Apple sells its products in India through partnered third-party offline retailers and e-commerce platforms such as Amazon India, Flipkart and Paytm Mall. Prior to New Delhi’s policy change, Apple had requested the government numerous times to relax the local foreign direct investment (FDI) rules.
Apple executives have long expressed disappointment at Amazon India, Flipkart and Paytm Mall for offering heavy discounts on the iPhone and MacBook Air to boost their respective GMV metrics, people familiar with the matter have told TechCrunch.
iPhone shipments in India grew 6% in 2019 compared with a 43% decline in 2018, according to research firm Counterpoint, which projected that the growth would continue this year. Apple commands about 1% of the smartphone market in India.
Apple on Tuesday posted a record revenue of $91.8 billion for the quarter that ended in December. Cook said in the earnings call that India was among the markets where the company’s revenue grew in “double-digit” in that quarter.
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