Apple’s 15-Year Journey in India: From the iPhone 3S to the First Store in Mumbai

It took Apple 15 years from when it first started selling its iPhone in India to having a company-run retail store in now the world’s second biggest smartphone market, one where it has faced several business challenges.

As Apple opens its first stores, here is a timeline of its journey in India, where the US firm’s contract manufacturers are increasingly making iPhones.

August 2008: iPhone 3G made its debut in India minus the mass hysteria and winding queues that had marked its launch in the US, Europe and parts of Asia.

January 2016: Apple files an application with India’s government to set up its own stores in India.

May 2016: Apple chief Tim Cook met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi for the first time as the company looks at plotting an expansion strategy.

June 2016: India relaxes its investment rules for foreign retailers, clearing way for giants such as Apple and IKEA to set up stores in the country.

May 2017: Apple, working with contract manufacturer Wistron, started local assembly of iPhones for the first time in India at Bengaluru with its iPhone SE model.

September 2020: Apple launched its first online store in India, coinciding with the country’s holiday season.

October 2020: India approved incentives under a federal plan to boost domestic smartphone production to 16 companies, including top Apple suppliers.

December 2020: Contract workers at the Bengaluru factory of Apple supplier Wistron ransacked the facility after a protest against unpaid wages. The factory was put on probation by Apple before resuming production two months later.

December 2021: Protests erupted at the Tamil Nadu plant of Foxconn after more than 250 women workers who live in one of the company dormitories were treated for food poisoning. Apple later found facilities did not meet required standards and the factory was closed for over three weeks.

December 2021: India’s competition watchdog orders an investigation into Apple’s in-app fee system, saying it was of the initial view that the iPhone maker had violated certain antitrust laws.

September 2022: Apple supplier Pegatron inaugurated its first plant in Tamil Nadu state to assemble iPhones.

February 2023: Apple supplier Foxlink, which manufactures iPhone chargers, halted production temporarily at its assembly facility in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh after a massive fire caused part of the building to collapse.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

Apple is opening its first stores in India, one in Mumbai and the other in Delhi. What does this mean for Apple customers in India? We discuss this and more on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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