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Apple eyes retail revival in Indonesia

The iPhone and iPad maker reportedly will invest $2 million to $3 million in a new retail store in the country, signaling its interest in emerging markets.

Apple's Palo Alto, Calif., store gets ready to open up on the day the iPad Mini first arrived. James Martin/CNET

Apple will invest between $2 million and $3 million in opening a new retail store in Indonesia, according to one publication, after filing an application with the country's investment board.

According to NZWeek, Indonesia's Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) announced it approved the application earlier today, which will see Apple debut in the online space in the country first, with an eye toward opening its first Apple Store in Jakarta, the country's capital city. 

The move will push Apple further into Asia, while still keeping the spinning plates of China's retail stores ticking over, as the iPhone and iPad maker attempts to fill the gap from third parties who had to import products from neighboring countries, such as Singapore.

The Next Web's Matt Brian notes that Apple expanded its online store to Indonesia between 2008 and 2010, but closed it down over "shipping irregularities" in November 2010 and closed operations in the country after. It kept the Web site online in order to keep a presence and to show product prices, but instead of taking orders the company directed customers to authorized resellers.

While it's a push into the emerging and developing markets -- that can't be denied -- it may not directly mean that a cheaper iPhone or low-end Apple products will be hitting the stores any time soon.

Following a Reuters article in which Apple senior vice president for marketing Phil Schiller said that the company would "never blindly pursue market share," there was further speculation that the company would in fact be offering a low-end device in order to hit the markets, despite his seeming to suggest, in an earlier, retracted version of the Reuters story, that the firm would not expand into an area that it did not see as profitable.

Indonesia is a strange place, at the moment. It's not quite an emerging market, but it's certainly more than developed -- at least the more wealthy areas are. The rich are very rich, and the poor are extremely poor. It's the almost-"1 percent argument" all over again. For Apple, hitting the market with a single Apple Store may make sense to serve those who can afford phones, but for now China and the rest of Asia -- where the stable cash flow actually is -- needs to remain in focus.

There's money in Indonesia -- albeit from a tiny proportion of the population -- but it could be a route into other markets in the region. 

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Apple to open Indonesia store in developing market push."