Apple India made headlines Monday after a news report by Economic Times said that Apple “is planning to set up its own online store by this year” in the country to sell the iPhone SE. Of course, the ET news report had no officially comments from Apple and quoted two anonymous “senior industry officials” to back the theory.
It is known that Apple is in talks with the government to manufacture iPhones in India and there is a possibility in the near future that the iconic Apple Store might pop up in India as well. However, there is no confirmed deadlines yet and the discussion is still stuck at dealing with Apple’s demands which includes tax incentives, long-term duty exemptions among others.
The entire story of Apple making in India is relying on a lot of “ifs and buts”. And the fact that Apple chooses to remain tight-lipped about future developments leads to a lot of speculations and unconfirmed news reports.
The ET news report said, “Apple will initially start its online store by selling iPhone SE which will be manufactured in India and the product portfolio will be expanded as it grows the local production to other models.”
There are two reasons as to why this statement holds little water. First, the Apple iPhone SE was met with lukewarm response in India and it is not Apple’s latest offering. Second, why would Apple launch an online store to just sell one product?
The report further adds, “It may also sell some accessories which will be sourced from India. For Apple, around 50-55 per cent of the iPhones sold in India is generated from online sales as compared to the smartphone industry average of 30 per cent. Apple will not compete on price with online marketplaces for the products it sells through its own online store.”
Sure Apple could have the bigger chunk of the online pie. But it is also mainly due to various offers by e-commerce players and banks that give cashbacks. Now, if Apple doesn’t compete with other Apple Authorised Internet Sellers on the price front, why would buyers shop from the so-called “Apple online store”? For any consumer tech company this just does not make any business sense.
Now, the ET report acknowledges this part and states that “Apple plans to differentiate its online store in India from marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart by offering value-added services such as laser engraving to personalise the handset, sell models or variants which are exclusive such as a dedicated model, colour option or storage space.”
Apple has never differentiated its offerings with respect to the platform or country where its products are being sold. And it is highly doubtful that Apple will opt services like “laser engraving” to retain exclusivity.