Tim Cook was presented with one of the first Apple computer models of by die-hard fan as he posed for selfies and signed gadgets at the opening of the tech giant’s inaugural Indian store.
The Apple Chief Executive looked stunned when he was presented with a Macintosh SE computer, launched in 1987, at the opening of the 20,000sq ft flagship store in India’s financial capital, Mumbai today.
Around 300 people who had flocked to the store from across India queued outside in anticipation. Some had been waiting since the previous night to get their hands on Apple products, despite the fact that they are available online.
‘The energy, creativity, and passion in Mumbai is incredible!’ Cook, who is making his first visit to India in seven years, said on Twitter.
‘We are so excited to open… our first store in India.’
Chief Executive Officer of Apple Tim Cook looks shocked as a fan shows him a Macintosh SE computer during the opening of Apple’s first retail store in India, in Mumbai on April 18, 2023
Cook poses with a fan during the opening. Around 300 people who had flocked to the store from across India queued outside in anticipation
Apple Tim Cook poses for a selfie. Some fans had been waiting since the previous night to get their hands on Apple products, despite the products already being available online
Cook waves during the opening of Apple’s first retail store in India, in Mumbai on April 18, 2023
The shop’s design inspired by the iconic black-and-yellow cabs unique to the city and the event featured local music and folk dancers.
The opening of the store highlights the company’s aspirations to expand in a country which it hopes to turn into a manufacturing hub.
A second store will open on Thursday in the national capital, New Delhi.
‘The fanboy inside me would not listen,’ Purav Mehta, 30, said as he waited to get Cook’s signature on his boxed mint-condition iPod Touch, which he had bought on eBay, as well as waiting to buy the Apple Watch Ultra.
Many visitors wore T-shirts in the style favoured by co-founder Steve Jobs and had their hair cut in the shape of an Apple logo.
Fans queue outside the 20,000sq ft flagship store in India’s financial capital, Mumbai on April 18, 2023
People gesture outside India’s first Apple retail store during a media preview, a day ahead of its launch in Mumbai, India, on April 17, 2023
iPhones are on display during a press preview of India’s first Apple Store in Mumbai, India, Monday, April 17, 2023
Apple retail employees applaud at the beginning of a press preview of India’s first Apple Store in Mumbai, India, Monday, on April 17, 2023
‘The vibe here is just different,’ said 23-year old Aan Shah, who travelled from the western industrial city of Ahmedabad for the launch in India’s commercial capital.
‘It’s not like buying from some normal store. There’s just no comparison. It’s so exciting.’
His love for Apple took him to store openings as a young student in New York and Boston, where he once got a chance to meet Cook, he said.
‘India has such a beautiful culture and an incredible energy, and we’re excited to build on our long-standing history,’ Cook said in a statement earlier.
The tech giant has been operating in India for more than 25 years, selling its products through authorised retailers and the website it launched a few years ago. But regulatory hurdles and the pandemic delayed its plans to open a flagship store.
The stores are a clear signal of the company’s commitment to invest in India, the second-largest smartphone market in the world where iPhone sales have been ticking up steadily, said Jayanth Kolla, analyst at Convergence Catalyst, a tech consultancy.
The stores show ‘how much India matters to the present and the future of the company’, he added.
Bloggers and other journalists attend a media preview inside India’s first Apple retail store, a day ahead of its launch in Mumbai, India, on April 17, 2023
Sajid Moinuddin, a fan of Apple products, poses with a Macintosh SE computer while waiting in a queue outside India’s first Apple retail store, on the day of its opening in Mumbai, India, on April 18, 2023
Bloggers and other journalists attend a media preview inside India’s first Apple retail store, a day ahead of its launch in Mumbai, India, April 17, 2023
Apoorv Rao, an Apple fan from Bangalore, sports a haircut depicting the Apple logo as he waits in a queue outside India’s first Apple retail store on the day of its opening in Mumbai, India, April 18, 2023
For the California-based company, India’s sheer size makes the market especially encouraging.
About 600 million of India’s 1.4 billion people have smartphones, ‘which means the market is still under-penetrated and the growth prospect is huge’, said Neil Shah, vice president of research at technology market research firm Counterpoint Research.
Between 2020 and 2022, the Silicon Valley company has gained some ground in the smartphone market in the country, going from about 2 per cent to 6 per cent, according to Counterpoint data.
Still, Apple’s pricey phones are affordable for only a few in India, where it accounts for just a 3 per cent share of the market.
Instead, iPhone sales in the country have thrived among the sliver of upper-middle-class and rich Indians with disposable incomes, a segment of buyers that Shah says is rising.
In September, Apple announced it would start making its iPhone 14 in India. The news was hailed as a win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which has pushed for ramping up local manufacturing ever since he came to power in 2014.
Apple first began manufacturing from India in 2017 with its iPhone SE and has since continued to assemble a number of iPhone models from the country.
Most of Apple’s smartphones and tablets are assembled by contractors with factories in China but the company started looking at potentially moving some production to south-east Asia or other places after repeated shutdowns to fight Covid-19 disrupted its global flow of products.
‘Big companies got a jolt, they realised they needed a back-up strategy outside of China – they couldn’t risk another lockdown or any geopolitical rift affecting their business,’ said Kolla.
Currently, India makes close to 13 million iPhones every year, up from less than 5 million three years ago, according to Counterpoint Research. This is about 6 per cent of iPhones made globally and only a small slice in comparison to China, which still produces around 90 per cent of them.
Last week, India’s commerce minister Piyush Goyal said the government was in regular touch with Apple to support their business and that the company had plans to have 25 per cent of their global production come out of India in the next five years.
The challenge for Apple, according to Shah of Counterpoint, is that the raw materials are still coming from outside India so the tech company will need to either find a local supplier or bring their suppliers, based in countries like China, Japan and Taiwan, closer to drive up production.
‘For Apple, everything is about timing. They don’t enter a market with full flow until they feel confident about their prospects. They can see the opportunity here today – it’s a win-win situation,’ Shah said.
Apple has previously faced hurdles in opening physical retail stores in the South Asian nation, but its products have been available on e-commerce websites, while its online store opened in 2020.
The new store opens as Indian consumers increasingly look to upgrade their smartphones to glitzier models, with richer feature sets, from budget devices typically costing less than $120.
The new store, located in the Reliance-owned Jio World Drive mall, opened for bloggers and tech analysts at a private event on Monday, while many Indian film and television celebrities were seen meeting Cook that night.
A second store in Delhi, the capital, is set to open on Thursday. Cook is set to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the deputy IT minister later this week, sources told Reuters.
As Apple pushes to make India a bigger manufacturing base, some of its products, including iPhones, are being assembled in the country by Taiwanese contract electronics manufacturers Foxconn and Wistron Corp.
It also plans to assemble iPads and AirPods in India.
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