Apple retail stores could soon land in India

The Indian government may exempt Apple from a policy that would otherwise prevent it from launching its own stores, says the Times of India.

Consumers in India may soon be able to shop at an Apple Store.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple might soon open the doors to its first retail outlets in India.

In its quest to set up shop in the world's third biggest smartphone market, Apple made a presentation on April 19 to a committee led by India's Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Secretary Ramesh Abhishek, the Times of India reported Thursday. In the presentation, Apple discussed its products, technologies and innovations.

In response, the committee has recommended that Apple be exempted from a policy requiring that companies buy their components from local manufacturers and will send its endorsement to Indian's Finance Ministry for final approval.

"The committee has found that the company's products are cutting-edge technology and state-of-the-art," sources said, according to the Times of India. "It has recommended to exempt them from the local sourcing norms."

India represents a prime opportunity for Apple. The company already sells the iPhone, iPad and other products in India both online and through resellers. But its market share in the country is only about 2 percent. 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.

Apple has been seeking approval from the Indian government since January to open its own branded retail stores. The stumbling block was the policy that foreign companies setting up their own stores in India buy at least 30 percent of their parts from local suppliers. That would be a challenge for Apple as the company gets most of its components from Chinese manufacturers.

On Tuesday, Apple reported a 16 percent decline in overall iPhone sales. But iPhone sales in India surged by 56 percent, according to CEO Tim Cook. The growth came despite India's preference for budget-friendly smartphones.

"Because the smartphones that are working there are low end, primarily because of the network and the economics, the market potential has not been as great there," Cook said. "But I view India as where China was maybe seven to 10 years ago from that point of view, and I think there's a really great opportunity there."