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Apple delays opening first physical store in India due to COVID-19, report says

The tech giant opened an online store for India in September.

Apple computers
James Martin/CNET

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.  

CEO Tim Cook announced plans for an Apple store location in India during its annual shareholder meeting in February 2020, saying he's a "huge believer" in the opportunities India presents as the world's second most populous country, with its unparalleled vibrancy and demographics. Earlier reports indicated the Apple store location was slated to open in Mumbai, the country's financial capital, this year.

Apple opened an online store for India in September, which brought the company's full range of products and support directly to consumers across India for the first time. The opening of the online store came as many physical retail stores were forced shut in India due to the pandemic. Cook said that the online store had received tremendous support in India, which is a key market for Apple along with rival tech companies. 

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Apple opened an eye-catching store in Singapore in 2020.

Apple

India represents a prime opportunity for Apple. The company, which has had 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 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.