Hong Kong (CNN) Apple CEO Tim Cook is in India this week to open its first physical stores in the country, marking a significant milestone for the iPhone maker in the world’s second-largest smartphone market.
Cook was seen personally greeting customers as employees cheered and clapped at the company’s new Mumbai outlet, which opened on Tuesday. It is widely expected to appear in a second store opening in Delhi on Thursday.
The move comes as the world’s most valuable company continues to focus on India, eyeing its potential as a consumer market and manufacturing base.
In a statement Monday, Cook noted Apple’s continued expansion in the country, saying its brick-and-mortar launch coincided with its 25th year of operation there.
“India has a beautiful culture and incredible energy,” he said. “We are excited to build on our long history – supporting our customers, investing in local communities, and working together to build a better future.”
In a separate statement Monday, apple (AAPL) We shared a sneak peek at its new store in Mumbai, located in a property owned by Reliance Industries, the Indian entrepreneur conglomerate. Mukesh Ambani.
The company described the store as one of the “most energy efficient” ones in the world, saying that the solar panels allow it to operate using only renewable energy.
Apple did not respond to a request for further comment or details of Cook’s visit.
Apple is the world The second largest Smartphone maker, behind samsung (SSNLF)but its 6% share of the Indian market is still small.
It’s dwarfed by the country’s top five vendors, led by Samsung and Chinese smartphone makers Xiaomi and Vivo. Apple products It is considered very expensive by many consumers in the country.
In India, the average salary for regular, full-time workers is 18,585 rupees ($226.5) per month, according to the latest Government statistics. For comparison, the iPhone 14 starts at 79,900 rupees ($973.6), while the iPhone SE, which is a lower-cost model, starts at 49,900 rupees ($608.2).
Apple’s position is expected to grow, as it continues to strengthen its retail presence there and more customers turn to high-end smartphones.
India holds promise for companies because of its massive population, rising middle class and growth potential from consumers who are expected to move from basic mobile phones to smartphones, according to Counterpoint Research Associate Director Hanish Bhatia.
Until now, however, Apple has been selling its products there online or through third-party sellers.
That’s because the company, along with other foreign retailers, was banned for years from setting up shop in the country unless it sourced at least 30% of its raw materials locally, forcing them to rely on local partners. The Indian government eased restrictions in 2019.
In 2020, Apple Launched An online store in India, that allows customers to buy its products and, for the first time, customize specific devices.
Previously to Apple a plan to open its first physical store in the country in 2021, even though the Covid-19 pandemic has derailed it.
Sanyam Chaurasia, mobility analyst at Canalys, said the stores will allow Apple to bring all of its products “under one roof” and direct more consumers towards buying.
The premium smartphone category, where Apple sits, continues to be driven by traditional stores where consumers can touch [and] Feel the device.
The locations of the new stores were critical, said Prashir Singh, senior analyst at Counterpoint Research, with Delhi and Mumbai making up Apple’s two largest Indian markets, respectively.
Singh said Mumbai, for example, typically contributes 10% of all iPhone sales in India.
Apple first started making iPhones in India in 2017 and they are running steadily manufacturing intensification there.
In recent months, it has significantly expanded production in the country after suffering supply chain hurdles in mainland China, which accounts for the bulk of smartphone manufacturing.
Apple significantly increased its Indian exports last year, with the number of iPhones manufactured and shipped from the country up 65% over the previous year, according to Counterpoint.
The company said that two of Apple’s largest contract manufacturers, Foxconn and Wistron, were also the fastest growing manufacturers in India during the fourth quarter of 2022.
Last month, Foxconn CEO Liu Yong also Spent a week in the country and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In its statement Monday, Apple said the company is working with suppliers to “produce an increasing number of components” alongside its assembly lines for iPhones.
“Apple’s work with Indian suppliers of all sizes supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country,” she said.
She added that the company’s mobile app business has also swelled to support more than a million developer jobs in the country.
Apple’s increased activities in India are part of a broader trend for companies to diversify their manufacturing away from China.
In recent years, the South Asian country has grown its share of global smartphone production exponentially, from less than 10% in 2016 to nearly a fifth expected this year, according to Counterpoint.
– CNN’s Manviena Suri contributed to this report.
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