Apple is increasing its focus on India, one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world, with plans to launch its own branded stores in the country. The Cupertino-based technology giant has filed an application with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), which is currently under review.
By opening Apple stores in India, the iPhone-maker will be able to set up a direct connection with consumers, who currently go through a franchised network. Apple confirmed to Reuters it has filed an application with the DIPP, but did not reveal details of how much investment or how many stores are in the offing.
"We have just received Apple's proposal. We are examining it," DIPP secretary Amitabh Kant told The Times of India on Wednesday.
Apple is also seeking the government's approval to directly sell its products — iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, iMacs and iPods — online. In the filing, Apple posted 44% increase in sales for 2014-15, which puts it at Rs 6,472.89 crore, up from Rs 4,500.35 crore a year earlier. The net profit doubled over the past year to Rs 242.85 crore from Rs 119.48, the TOI report added.
What's next after Apple stores in India is still a mystery, but the chairman and managing director at consulting firm Technopak told Forbes: "When Apple says it'll open its own stores, it means it's serious about India. This could mean that potentially, in a few years, they may even look at product development and manufacturing in India."
Looking back a few decades, Apple's primary interest markets did not include India. But recent years have shown Apple is keen on growing its presence and sales in what is deemed to replace the US as the world's second-largest smartphone market in 2017. The tech titan has introduced several offers, such as attractive buyback schemes, EMI options and discounts on old models.
Apple's sales in India crossed $1 billion for the first time in the fiscal year that ended March 2015, according to the Registrar of Companies.
Apple's attempt at seeking approval for opening its own stores in India isn't a first. Prior to the change in FDI norms in November 2015, which prevented foreign direct investment in single-brand retail, Apple had argued with the authorities in 2014 to do away with such limitations. India's former FDI policy required any foreign company investing more than 51% in a local firm or joint nventure to source 30% of its products from within the country.
Apple currently operates more than 450 stores across 18 countries.