India to get first Apple Store online on 23rd September
Apple aficionados in India woke up to some great news on 18th September. Tim Cook, CEO, Apple tweeted that the country will welcome its first Apple Store online on 23rd September.
This announcement more than made up for many a gadget lover’s disappointment that the iPhone 12 was not announced during the Time Flies event earlier that week. Incidentally, the Apple Watch SE, Series 6, iPad Air 4, and iPad 8, launched at this virtual event will be available on the Apple Store online, as per the company’s press statement. Till recently, Indian customers could buy these products from Apple stores operated by its reselling partners or popular e-commerce sites.
“We’re proud to be expanding in India and want to do all we can to support our customers and their communities,” said Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s Senior Vice President, Retail + People. “We know our users are relying on technology to stay connected, engage in learning, and tap into their creativity, and by bringing the Apple Store online to India, we are offering our customers the very best of Apple at this important time.”
The Apple Store online will offer Indian customers financing options along with lucrative trade-in programs to encourage them to upgrade to the latest products. Students can avail special rates to purchase a Mac or iPad and also receive discounts on accessories and AppleCare+. This service extends the warranty with an additional two years of technical support and accidental damage cover.
Moreover, the company will offer signature gift wrapping and custom configuration selections on specific products. This includes engraving of emoji or text for AirPods in English as well as regional languages like Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu. Currently, engraving for iPad and Apple Pencil is available only in English.
WHY AN APPLE STORE NOW?
The launch of an online store in the September-October period is significant. It will help Apple cash into the festive season demand, which spikes from Dussehra and extends after Diwali festivals. The student discount, financing options and trade-in programs will also make it lucrative for customers to shift to Apple products.
To stay on top of the peak period, Apple will ship orders through BlueDart’s contactless delivery system within 24 to 72 hours of the order being placed. It will also offer options including gift wrapping and personalised engraving, which makes for an appealing gifts during the festive season.
In August, Bloomberg had predicted that Apple had plans to take the online route to meet the needs of India’s fast-growing smartphone market. Counterpoint Research found that India's smartphone shipments in the premium segment (priced above Rs 30,000) declined by 32% year-on-year to over 1 million in the June 2020 quarter following disruptions related to COVID-19. Despite this drop, it was still amongst the least affected segments and reached its highest-ever share in the overall India smartphone market, contributing more than 4% in total smartphone shipments, the research agency stated.
Last year, it had also stated that the tech giant planned to open a physical Apple Store in the country and had zeroed on locations in Mumbai and Bengaluru. However, the pandemic put brakes on these plans, which it could most likely revisit in 2021.