The vetted locations are said to include several upscale sites in Mumbai that are comparable to iconic Apple stores on Fifth Avenue in New York, Regent Street in London, or the Champs-Elysees in Paris. A final decision on the plans is expected to come "in the next few weeks," said Bloomberg's sources.
In the Indian market, Apple ranks 11th and accounts for just one percent of India's phone sales, selling fewer than one million iPhones during the first half of 2018. Comparatively, rival smartphone maker Xiaomi sold "more than 19 million" during that period, according to data gathered by Counterpoint Research.
In an effort to revamp the company's presence in India, Apple CEO Tim Cook is believed to be working behind-the-scenes to "remold Apple's failing India strategy," according to both current and former Apple employees who spoke to Bloomberg.
This strategy includes better and longer-lasting retail deals with higher sales targets, the opening of official Apple retail stores in India, "overhauling" the company's relationship with independent retailers, and improving apps and services "aimed more closely at Indians." For retail, the official Apple stores are said to open in 2019 and will eventually include locations in New Delhi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai.
While the Indian government's rules for foreign companies opening shops have previously prevented Apple from launching local stores, the company now builds some of its iPhone SE and iPhone 6s models in India, which is believed to help it meet India's rule requiring these companies to manufacture 30 percent of their products locally.