Apple fans in India showed their excitement as Chief Executive Tim Cook inaugurated the first retail store of the tech giant in Mumbai. About 300 people queued outside the store on Tuesday, hoping to be among the first to enter. Cook, who is making his first visit to India in seven years, shared his enthusiasm on Twitter, saying, “The energy, creativity, and passion in Mumbai is incredible! We are so excited to open…our first store in India.”
The opening event featured local music and folk dancers, and fans from across India flocked to the store, some even queuing outside overnight to get their hands on Apple products, despite their availability online in India. Purav Mehta, a 30-year-old fan, eagerly waited to get Cook’s signature on his boxed mint-condition iPod Touch, which he had bought on eBay, and was also looking forward to purchasing the Apple Watch Ultra.
Many visitors at the store wore T-shirts in the style favored by co-founder Steve Jobs, had their hair cut in the shape of an Apple logo, and some even brought vintage Apple devices, including a version of the first Apple computer launched in 1984.
“The vibe here is just different,” said 23-year-old Aan Shah, who traveled from the western industrial city of Ahmedabad for the store’s launch in India’s commercial capital. “It’s not like buying from some normal store. There’s just no comparison. It’s so exciting.” Shah shared his love for Apple and how he had attended store openings as a young student in New York and Boston, where he once got a chance to meet Cook.
Apple has faced challenges in opening physical retail stores in India in the past, but its products have been available on e-commerce websites, and its online store opened in 2020. The new store is located in the Reliance-owned Jio World Drive mall and opened for bloggers and tech analysts at a private event on Monday. Many Indian film and television celebrities were also seen meeting Cook that night.
This move comes as Indian consumers increasingly look to upgrade their smartphones to more high-end models with richer features, although Apple’s pricey phones are still affordable for only a few in India, where the brand accounts for just a 3% share of the market. Apple is hoping to expand its presence in India as it pushes to make the country a bigger manufacturing base. Some of its products, including iPhones, are already being assembled in India by Taiwanese contract electronics manufacturers Foxconn and Wistron Corp, and the company has plans to assemble iPads and AirPods in India as well.
In addition to the Mumbai store, Apple is set to open a second store in Delhi, the capital city, on Thursday. Cook is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the deputy IT minister during his visit to India later this week. With the opening of the first retail store in India and plans for further expansion, Apple is signaling its commitment to tapping into the potential of the Indian market and catering to the growing demand for its products in the country.