KOLKATA: Apple has deferred plans to start company-owned online store in India from the January-March quarter to August-September wanting more time to complete the back-end work and to roll it around a high sales period to coincide with the launch of new iPhones before the festive season, two senior industry executives said.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is going to make his second India visit around June-July to take stock of the India business, including manufacturing expansion, exports from the country and roll out of both company-owned online and brick-and mortar Apple stores, they said. Cook is also likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Cook’s maiden India visit was in 2016.
“Since over 30% of iPhone sales in India is generated from e-commerce sites like Flipkart and Amazon, the company wants to time the India launch around launch of new iPhones,” one of the executive said.
He said while it was earlier targeting this quarter considering Apple may launch a new iPhone model, but back-end work like logistics and supply chain are still not sorted to meet global standards.
Apple’s distribution centre near Mumbai operated by global logistic partner DB Schenker will act as the hub for the company’s online store. The brick-and-mortar Apple Store will, however, come up next year since it takes over 10-12 months to set up such a store. Apple will set up its first Apple Store in Mumbai followed by another one in Delhi-NCR, the executives said. Meanwhile, Apple headquarters in Cupertino is finalising plans for Cook’s visit to India. He is likely to announce the physical Apple Stores and online store, review other plans, and meet the prime minister and senior government ministers.
Apple India did not respond to an email sent on Monday.
Market researcher Counterpoint Research associate director Tarun Pathak said since the price discrepancy between online and offline is not as high for Apple unlike other smartphone brands, it can leverage the company online store.
“However, volumes may not be strong since Indian consumers still prefer to buy an iPhone either from a store or when there is huge discount in online marketplaces. The online store can fulfil the demand if there is a demand for a particular colour or memory variant,” said Pathak.
India last August allowed single brand foreign companies to sell directly through webstores in the country after which Apple started freezing its plans.
Apple turned around its India business in 2019 after it reported a drop in iPhone sales in 2018. As per Counterpoint, Apple shipped 1.9 million units of iPhone to India last year, up from 1.8 million units in 2018. It was one of the fastest-growing brands in the October-December quarter of last year driven by multiple price cuts on iPhone XR due to local manufacturing in India.
The company also had the fastest rollout of new iPhones in India last year. Apple started its second manufacturing line in India through contract manufacturer Foxconn and exports from the country. It has around 2% share of the overall Indian smartphone market.
Source: Economic Times