Apple has delayed plans to open its first brick-and-mortar store in India this year as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the country, according to an Indian Express report published Friday.
Apple CEOduring an earnings call last February, saying he’s a “huge believer” in the opportunities India presented as the world’s second most populous country with its unparalleled vibrancy and demographics. Earlier reports indicated the an Apple store location was slated to open in Mumbai, the country’s financial capital, this year.
Apple had opened an online store for India last September, which brought Apple’s full range of products and support directly to consumers across India for the first time. The opening of the online store came as much of physical retail stores had been forced shut in India due to the pandemic. Cook had said that the online store had received tremendous support in India, which is a key market for Apple along with rival tech companies.
India represents a prime opportunity for Apple. The company, which has has a presence in India for more than two decades, already sells the iPhone, iPad and other products in India both online and through resellers. But its market share in the country is small relative to the country’s size and potential. Retail stores could help sales by giving people there the opportunity to try out the company’s devices and speak with customer service representatives in person.
The coronavirus pandemic has added further to delays of Apple opening a physical store in India. The process has taken time since Apple has been seeking approval to operate in India without a local partner, Cook had told shareholders last year. “I don’t think we would be a very good partner of retail,” he said. “We like to do things our way.”
A spokesperson for Apple couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.