Apple working on plans to reverse its fortunes in India

Apple has had major problems gaining a foothold in India with iPhone sales on the decline even as they rise in the rest of the world. However, the tech giant is reportedly working on plans to change this, though the procedures may be controversial.

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Indian wholesalers and online retailers often raise or lower their prices daily without giving a reason, leading shoppers to haggle or wait in hopes of a better deal, Subhash Chandra, who runs a 510-store chain of gadget shops called Sangeetha Mobiles, told Bloomberg Businessweek. Two leading retail chains say iPhone sales have fallen to one-third of their January level, the article adds.

What’s more, per Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and Saritha Rai: Instead of officially lowering its prices, Apple is in talks with retailers and banks to offer holiday deals all year round, according to people familiar with the plans. Those people say Apple is also asking some individual stores to more than quadruple sales targets, to 40 or 50 iPhones a week, and plans to cut off retailers that consistently fail to hit the mark. Retail sales staff will be trained to teach customers how to use their devices, and Apple intends to overhaul in-store branding and product displays. Executives would conduct daily conference calls with stores to gauge progress.

Apple reportedly hopes to start opening stores in India next year and eventually set up three in New Delhi, Bengaluru (formerly known as Bangalore), and Mumbai, according to the people familiar with the company’s plans. The problem is that India has restrictive real estate investment laws for foreign companies.The government has required foreign companies opening shops to manufacture 30% of their products locally, but it said in January that businesses can reduce that requirement by sourcing more Indian goods for their global operations. Apple now builds some of its India-aimed iPhone SE and 6s models in Bengaluru. 

The tech giant wants to open premium retail stores at prime locations either in a mall or high street in New Delhi and Mumbai. The Indian stores will be nearly double than that of its average global store size of 8,500 square feet and will be the biggest single brand electronics store in the country, nearly 7-10 times that of rival Samsung, according to The Economic Times.