Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook said the company would open its first physical stores in India in 2021 and an online outlet later this year.

Apple had to seek special approval from the Indian government to open a store without a local partner.

The announcement was made at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting.

Investors at the meeting also voted on a proposal that the firm should alter how it responds when governments ask it to remove apps from its marketplace.

Though the measure wasn’t approved, it failed by a slimmer margin then similar proposals in the past.

Apple’s move into India, the second-largest smartphone market in the world, has been expected for some time, but the announcement of a date was new.

In 2018 India changed the laws that prevented foreign brands from opening single-brand stores in the country. Nevertheless, Mr Cook said India had wanted Apple to open its store with a local partner.

Mr Cook told investors he didn’t think Apple would be a “good partner”.

“We like to do things our way,” he said.

Apple sells its products through third-party stores in India at the moment. But its sales lag competitors Samsung and Huawei.

With demand for Apple products slowing in China – even before the outbreak of Coronavirus – the firm is hoping it can spur growth in other developing markets like India.

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