Apple Inc.’s chief executive Tim Cook has reaffirmed the iPhone-maker’s plans to open its own retail stores in India, which he described as one of its fastest-growing markets.
“We’re looking forward to opening retail stores in India down the road, and we see huge potential for that vibrant country,” said Cook on Wednesday. He had visited India in May.
The increasingly saturated Chinese smartphone market has shifted the Cupertino, California-based Apple’s focus to India as its next source of growth.
India iPhone sales jumped 51% in the first nine months of Apple’s current business year.
Cook visited India in May to seek the government’s approval to open local retail stores, and also launched a 4,000-employee office in Hyderabad to develop mapping products.
Apple’s sales in India crossed the $1 billion mark for the first time last year although it has a minuscule market share less than 2% of the country’s smartphone market.
But, in the case of Apple, India has refused to waive a condition that requires single-brand retailers to source 30% of the content locally. It has also been cold to Apple’s plans to sell refurbished, used iPhones in the country.
In June, commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Apple will have to reapply under new rules if it wants a waiver from the stipulation.
Under the norms changed in the same month, entities claiming to bring state-of-the-art and cutting-edge technology to single-brand retailing will get a waiver for three years with an option for a five-year extension. Hitherto, there had been no time limit for exemption from local- sourcing norms for the entities.
The 51% increase in iPhones sales in India is significant given that globally, sales of the smartphone have fallen for the last two quarters.