IPhone maker set to open first brick-and-mortar stores in world’s second-largest smartphone market.
Apple has one remedy for the gloom in the technology sector.
The manufacturer of the iPhone and the iPad has not been spared by the global economic uncertainty, which has obliterated technology-stock prices.
In 2022 Apple’s (AAPL) – value had evaporated the most, even more than e-retail and cloud giant Amazon (AMZN). To be precise, the Cupertino, Calif., company lost $846.34 billion in market value last year. Amazon, for its part, saw its market value collapse by $834.06 billion.
In addition to questions about the health of the global economy, the stock-market rout of the world’s largest company stems also from its problems with iPhone 14 deliveries amid new covid-19 restrictions that were announced in China.
Investors fear that consumers, faced with the economic slowdown, will postpone or abandon plans to buy new iPhones or other products from the brand.
The company seems to have found a springboard for growth in the form of the upcoming opening of Apple Stores in India, the world’s second largest smartphone market after China.
The company, led by Chief Executive Tim Cook, has just posted a dozen roles for Apple stores for “various locations within India.”
The roles offered range from “In-Store Leader”, to “In-Genius”, “In-Specialist’, ‘In-Senior Manager,” “In-Technical Specialist,” “In-Market Leader,” “In-Operations Expert,” “In-Business Pro,” “In-Creative,” “In-Business Expert,” “In-Manager”.
“It’s your job, as a Store Leader, to build and manage the various teams that engage customers in this dynamic environment,” reads a summary of the “In-Store Leader” job.
The role of “In-Genius,” with which many people who have visited an Apple Store are familiar, is even clearer: “At the Apple Store, whether you work full-time or part-time, you maintain customers’ trust in Apple as a skilled technician, troubleshooting and repairing products,” reads a description on LinkedIn.
In less than 24 hours Apple had received more than 200 applications for this role, according to LinkedIn. How many people Apple will recruit altogether for all these roles is unclear.
Apple has not disclosed the cities in which it intends to open Apple Stores or how many it will open. But on LinkedIn the group says it is looking for “In-Genius” in Mumbai and New Delhi. Many experts say that the flagship store will open in Mumbai, at the earliest in March.
The Financial Times was the first to report the job postings related to Apple Stores in India.
Apple did not immediately comment.
Apple has had to work hard to get into India. It had planned to open its first physical store in the country right after its online store launched in 2020, but that was delayed to 2021 and again to 2022.
India had strict requirements for foreign companies, which prevented Apple to have a significant presence in the country. iPhones were to be made in India and 30% of products sold in stores were also to be made there. This last requirement was dropped as Apple began manufacturing the iPhone locally.
The establishment of Apple in India is a big positive for the company, which seeks to depend less on China. Apple can thus consolidate its phone-manufacturing operations in the country, where for now they are still very small.
About 3 million iPhones were made in India in 2021, compared with 230 million in China, according to Bloomberg Intelligence estimates. Apple’s contract manufacturers build iPhones at plants in southern India.
Things are about to change. Last year, Apple broke with tradition, having the iPhone 14 manufactured immediately in India as soon as it was unveiled.
In addition, Apple’s suppliers could see big benefits by expanding their operations in India, where Narendra Modi’s government is promoting itself as an alternative factory location to China.
India’s Production-Linked Incentives offer subsidies equivalent to 4% to 6% of production costs for five years once certain criteria are met.
“The government’s efforts to bring about a supply chain shift and make India a manufacturing hub with constant policy interventions in the form of PLI schemes has helped the country to attract major global players across the value chain,” said Counterpoint Research Analyst Priya Joseph.
“Further, the government is actively pursuing the target of expanding the local value addition from the present 17% to 18% to 25% in the near future.”
Apple could also rely on its local partner Tata Group to develop very quickly in the country.
By opening physical stores in India, Apple will be more visible in the country. This visibility could enable it to increase its market share, which is currently only 5%. (The iPhone, however, is the leader in the premium-phone segment.)
The Indian market has seen a steady rise in the past five years, barring the covid-19-hit in 2020, Counterpoint Research says. The market is projected to grow 10% in 2023 to reach 175 million units.
“A large installed base, feature phone-to-smartphone migration, local smartphone production, development of supply chain and the emergence of newer use cases will continue to grow the market in the longer term,” the firm explains.