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Tim Cook launches first Apple India store

Apple Inc. has launched its first India store in Mumbai, 25 years after it first entered the country, as the world’s biggest company by market value accelerates its diversification outside China.

At 11:00 am on Tuesday, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook threw open the doors to the outlet at the JioWorldDrive in Mumbai’s business district Bandra-Kurla Complex. Apple fans had started queuing up outside the outlet hours earlier in anticipation.

“The energy, creativity, and passion in Mumbai is incredible,” Cook said in a tweet. “We are so excited to open Apple BKC—our first store in India.”

It’s the first of two outlets that Apple is opening in the country, with the second one at Delhi’s Saket scheduled to launch on April 20.

The stores mark the growing importance of India in Apple’s business as global corporations diversify supply chains and prepare for growing tensions between the U.S. and China. Apple assembled more than $7 billion of iPhones in India last fiscal year, tripling production in the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market, Bloomberg reported.

Apple, having met regulatory demand to source some of the products locally, is targeting the country of 1.4 billion to revive global revenue growth and diversify its manufacturing footprint beyond China.

With tech demand slowing globally, the Cupertino, California-based firm has identified India’s expanding middle class as an attractive opportunity and it’s also adding production in the country at an increasing rate.

To be sure, only about 4% of India’s nearly 700 million smartphone users have iPhones. Cheaper local brands as well as Chinese and South Korean manufacturers have found more buyers among the cost-conscious shoppers in the world’s second-biggest mobile market.

While a lot of the store is similar to those across 575 locations in the world, Apple has attempted to Indianise the outlet by incorporating local influences. The facade borrows heavily from the ‘kaali-peeli’ taxi cabs of Mumbai, while the walls inside the store are made of stone brought from Rajasthan. 4.5 lakh pieces of timber adorn the ceiling walls.

The 100-member team at the store—nearly half of whom are women—can speak in a total of 18 languages.

According to Deirdre O’Brien, senior vice president of people and retail at Apple, a lot of attention has been given to sustainability and inclusivity. The company employs 2,500 people in the country and has indirectly helped create 10 lakh jobs through its app ecosystem, she said. Bloomberg

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