Apple will launch its Indian online store on September 23, CEO Tim Cook tweeted on Friday. This is the first time the company will sell its products and services to Indian customers directly instead of through third party resellers. The move is in line with Cook’s February announcement that said an online store will be launched this year, and a physical retail store in 2021.
Apple is also making a considerable push to tailot its services for India. Its customer service representatives — known as Apple Specialists — will offer support in Hindi, along with English. It is also going to offer personalised engraving services on its popular wireless earphones “AirPods” with text in seven Indian languages apart from English — Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu. On its iPad and Apple Pencil, however, engraving services will only be available in English.
The company also announced that it will offer financing and trade-in programmes in India. It will also give student discounts on its laptops, desktops and iPads. Similarly, AppleCare+ — extended warranty and technical support plans — will be available to Indian consumers. From October, it will begin free online sessions on photography and music by local professionals.
Fruition of years’ long efforts
Apple has been trying to open its Indian stores, both online and offline, for several years but was delayed because of FDI norms regarding the sourcing of its good locally. It was only in August 2019 that the 30% local sourcing FDI norm was relaxed for single brand retailers in India, much to relief of companies like Apple.
The Central government had announced that retailers could sell their goods online for up to two years before opening physical stores. Apple was appreciative of the move, and announced that it would take some time to get its plans underway.
In February 2020, CEO Tim Cook had announced at the company’s annual shareholders meeting that Apple will open an online store in 2020, and a physical store later in 2021. Cook had also said that opening a store in India had taken time since it was trying to get approval to operate without local partners. In its latest announcement, however, Apple did not offer any update on opening physical stores.