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A view of Apple’s first company-owned store in India to be launched inside the Jio World Drive mall at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai.
Ashish Vaishnav | Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Apple is set to open its first physical stores in India next week, highlighting the country’s importance to the U.S. tech firm’s future in iPhone sales and manufacturing,

The Cupertino giant will open a store in Mumbai on Apr. 18 and in the Indian capital Delhi on Apr. 20.

Apple CEO Tim Cook may travel to India to open the stores, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The move underscores his bullishness towards the world’s fifth-largest economy.

Cook’s visit, almost 7 years since his inaugural trip to India, comes as Apple is looking to boost retail sales of its products and its manufacturing activity locally.

Apple has been bolstering its inroads into the Indian market, which has been dominated by low-to-mid-cost smartphones from companies such as Samsung and Xiaomi. IPhone shipments grew 16% year-on-year in 2022 and Apple was the number one player in the premium segment of the market, which are phones above $365, according to Counterpoint Research. While it is only now looking to open its first physical retail location in India, the company has had an online store there since 2020.

“I’m very bullish on India,” Cook said during a February earnings call covering Apple’s results for the December quarter, when the tech giant observed record iPhone revenues in India, while the number of regional iPhone users increased to “double-digit.”

Apple is ”putting a significant amount of energy” in India, Cook stressed at the time.

Retail is only one step. On the manufacturing front, Apple began assembling its flagship iPhone 14 in India last year — the first time that the company has produced its latest device in the country, so close to its initial launch. Piyush Goyal, India’s minister of commerce and industry, said in January that Apple is aiming to make 25% of all of its iPhones in India.

The manufacturing push in India comes as Apple is looking to reduce its reliance on China, where it currently makes the bulk of its iPhones. Fragilities in China were exposed last year, after production was disrupted by a COVID-19 outbreak and worker protests at the world’s largest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, China, which is run by Taiwanese firm Foxconn.

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