The opening of Apple’s own stores in Mumbai and New Delhi symbolises India’s arrival in the big league of economies, especially in a post-pandemic scenario. It’s not as if Apple’s iconic products were not available in India through their widespread dealer network all these years. It’s just that another milestone has been crossed in one of the globe’s biggest marketing successes reaching our metros with flagship stores to flaunt their presence.
Everyone may not love India but the Indian economy, the fifth biggest in the world now, virtually demands attention from the world’s best. Regardless of whether it has become any easier doing business with and in India, the world’s best are itching to be visible in a bustling consumer market of aspirational Indians prepared to go beyond comfortable price points to own lifestyle products that are more than mere devices.
Apple may command only a four per cent share of the Indian smartphone market but, as Tim Cook admitted, anything is possible. The iPhone and the Android, the MacBook and the laptop are not as dissimilar as apples and oranges that they cannot be compared. Apple has, however, ticked a box by manufacturing or, to put it more accurately, assembling their iPhones in the country and exporting them in sizeable numbers for a positive inflow that offsets the outflow in terms of import of parts.
India’s potential as a host of smartphone assembly lines for the world has grown manifold since the pandemic and Apple’s retail stores come at a time when its big assembling partner Foxconn is mulling major expansion here. Having had to keep tariffs high thus far to protect the domestic mobile phone market from being flooded with Chinese devices, India would have to press its post-pandemic advantage to get the majors like Samsung and Apple more involved in ‘Made in India’ process as the benefits in terms of jobs and revenue from smartphone exports are obvious.
About three decades ago, the sceptics were wondering if India needed mobile phones and high speed connectivity. The mobile revolution has far overtaken them and a time has come when India need not just be a consumer of Apple’s lifestyle gadgets, but also a serious contributor to their manufacturing chains.