Apple's three-pronged strategy is finally coming together in India

Apple Store online in India
Apple Store online in India (Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / iMore)

The Apple Store online is now open for business in India. This is a significant moment in Apple's India journey and is the culmination of a decade-long effort to set up a retail presence in the country. India is an important market for Apple, but regulatory hurdles prevented it from making inroads into the market.

The online storefront is just one part of a larger strategy aimed at increasing Apple's market share in India. The company is focusing on three key pillars: friction-less sales, budget models, and affordable services. Let's take a look at how that is coming together in India.

Retail: Apple Store brings customization options to customers in India

Apple Store online in India

Apple Store online in India (Image credit: iMore)

Apple had plans to set up a retail store in India nearly a decade ago, but its plans were thwarted by the Indian government. India has local sourcing norms that prevent brands from setting up stores unless they meet a quota, and Apple was ineligible because the iPhones it sold in India were imported from other countries.

Therefore, Apple had to rely on third-party sellers and big format stores to sell its products in India. But with Apple manufacturer Foxconn setting up a facility in India and kicking off local production of the iPhone 11 and the iPhone SE, Apple met the guidelines for setting up its online and retail stores.

Buying straight from Apple comes with plenty of benefits.

With the launch of the Apple Store online — and with a retail store set to launch sometime next year — customers in India now have the ability to buy products directly from Apple. That's a big deal, because it means customers in the country can get to customize their products. Apple is offering a wealth of configuration options for those buying the iMac and MacBooks, there are plenty of custom bands for the Apple Watch, and with a generous trade-in program, buying an iPhone in India has never been easier.

Apple is also selling its latest products — including the iPad 2020, Apple Watch Series 6, and the Apple Watch SE — via its online store, and with iPad availability limited throughout the country over the course of 2020, this should make it easier for anyone looking to pick up a tablet.

That's the best part of the Apple Store in India. It just makes it easier to find all color options, storage configurations, Wi-Fi or cellular models, and all the accessories from a single location. Customers in India can also pick up AppleCare+ while purchasing a product, and Apple is incentivizing the launch of its online store by providing a 6% cashback (up to ₹10,000 ($136)) on all orders above ₹20,000 ($272) to HDFC cardholders.

Apple is making its product specialists available (via chat), so you can figure out which product to buy, and it is promoting contactless deliveries. You also get a one-on-one online session with a specialist after you make your purchase to get a better understanding of the product.

Apple prides itself on its retail experience, and it's great to see that customers in India can now take advantage of it. The ability to sell directly to customers allows Apple to effectively manage inventory, and with iPhones now locally manufactured in India, we may get to see discounts in the future.

Devices: iPhone SE and Apple Watch SE lower the barrier to entry

iPhone SE 2020

iPhone SE 2020 (Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / iMore)

Apple can sell its products to customers in India, but it becomes a moot point if its devices are too expensive for most potential buyers. That's where the SE models come in. The iPhone SE 2020 is the perfect product for the Indian market, and the value on offer combined with the hardware makes it a standout option.

The iPhone SE shares the same design as the iPhone 8, but features the A13 Bionic chipset, wireless charging, IP67 water resistance, and a great 12MP camera at the back. The iPhone SE is available for ₹42,500 ($578) in India, with Apple offering financing options that start at ₹5,002 ($68) a month.

Then there's the Apple Watch SE. The smartwatch has the same design and large display as the Apple Watch Series 6 and comes with an always-on altimeter, fall detection, and emergency SOS, and it costs ₹29,900 ($405) in the country for the GPS model.

The iPhone SE 2020 and the Apple Watch SE significantly lower the barrier to entry into Apple's ecosystem, and the positioning combined with financing options makes them enticing to customers in the country. Apple discounted the iPhone XR during India's festive season last year, and if that's the case this year with the iPhone SE as well, it should lead to a significant boost in sales.

Services: Apple One is an absolute bargain in India

Apple One in India

Apple One (Image credit: iMore)

The final part of the puzzle is Apple One, the new subscription bundle that debuted earlier this month. Apple One in India starts at just ₹195 ($2.65) per month for individuals and ₹365 ($5) monthly for families. The bundle includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50GB iCloud storage for individuals and 200GB for families. You can share the family plan with up to five other people, making it a stellar deal.

Apple One perfectly complements Apple's device offerings in India. Most consumers in India are reticent to pay for digital content, but by positioning Apple One so aggressively, Apple has a good chance of convincing users to sign up for its service.

Apple is betting on two fronts in India: the affordable iPhone SE and Apple Watch SE make it easier than ever for consumers in the country to get their hands on a new Apple product, and Apple One is the perfect gateway into Apple's broader services push. Combine the two offerings with an unmatched retail experience, and Apple is finally on track to gain some momentum in India.

Harish Jonnalagadda

The clumsiest man in tech.