Apple To Open Its First Store In India In 2021, Says CEO Tim Cook

Apple Inc. plans to open an online retailing outlet for its products for Indian consumers later this year while the company plans to open its first flagship physical store in one of the fastest growing smartphone markets of the world next year, said the United States based tech giant’s chief executive Tim Cook.

In order for Apple to open a store in India without partnering with any domestic partner it was necessary for the company to first acquire a special approval from the Indian government – which apparently has already been given to it.

The announcement from Cook came during the annual general meeting of the shareholders of the company.

India is the second largest smartphone market of the world after China and the move by Apple to venture into the market directly was anticipated by the market and investors for quite some time now. However what was new was the announcement of a specific date for the same.

Laws that prevented foreign companies to open up single-brand stores in the country were changed by the Indian government in 2018. Despite this, the government in India wanted Apple to open its single brand stores after partnering up with a local partner, Cook said.   

He didn’t think Apple would be a “good partner”, Cook told investors at the meeting.

“We like to do things our way,” he said.

Currently, the business model of Apple in India involves selling of its products through third party stores. However it has not been able to make a mark in the smartphone market share in the country and lags well behind market leaders such as South Korea’s Samsung and China’s Huawei.

According to analysts, Apple is betting on a spur in growth for its growth in developing markets other than China – such as India, because the company had reported a drop in demand for its products in China even before the country was hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

One of the notable incidents that happened at the annual shareholders’ meeting was a voting on a proposal brought in by a shareholder group urging the company to change the manner in which it responds to requests from the government of the various markets it operates in about taking down apps from its marketplace. Even though the proposal was defeated in the voting, it saw an unusually large support from the shareholders present and voting compared to the outcome of similar proposals brought in the past.

The proposal has urged Apple to make a public commitment to respecting “freedom of expression as a human right.” This proposal was related to Apple deciding to remove an app from its marketplace in China that allowed its Chinese users to bypass the so called Great Wall of China designed to prevent access to international websites. The Chinese government had asked for its removal in 2017. The proposal also pertained to the removal of an app that democracy protesters in Hong Kong used to communicate with each other and avoid being tracked and blocked by China’s internet restrictions.

(Adapted from BBC.com)

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