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Electronics

Apple opens first India online store to boost iPhone sales

Launch comes as US tech giant diversifies production beyond China amid trade war

Apple is hoping that the new online store and local production will increase sales in India. (Source photo by Reuters and screenshot from Apple website)

MUMBAI -- Apple launched its first online Apple Store in India on Wednesday as the tech giant looks to diversify production beyond China.

The company promises Indian customers a full product range and the same "premium experience" found in Apple stores around the world.

"We're proud to be expanding in India and want to do all we can to support our customers and their communities," said Deirdre O'Brien, Apple's senior vice president of retail and people, in a news release. "We know our users are relying on technology to stay connected, engage in learning, and tap into their creativity. ... We are offering our customers the very best of Apple at this important time."

The spread of the new coronavirus continues in India, whose number of cases is topped only by the U.S.

Currently, Apple products are sold to Indians online through channels such as Amazon.com and Walmart-controlled Flipkart, but the company holds a market share estimated at 2% or lower.

The store's launch comes as the company ramps up production of its iconic phones in India. Apple is hoping that the new store and local production will increase sales in India.

Recently, Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn began assembling the iPhone 11 series at its Chennai plant, along with earlier iPhone XRs. Wistron, Apple's other key supplier, is assembling iPhone 7s in Bangalore, a source said.

As the prolonged trade war between the U.S. and China intensifies, Apple needs to spread out its iPhone supply chain, which has been heavily concentrated in China.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, for its part, is keen on supporting Apple and other global manufacturers to make India not just a manufacturing hub but also an export center. It has been reaching out to companies that are looking to shift their bases from China.

India has been relaxing rules for local production since last year, and more so amid the pandemic.

In March, the government announced it would extend for five years a 4-6% incentive on the incremental sale of goods made in India by big electronics manufacturers. The incentive is meant to boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in mobile phones and certain electronic components.

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