MUMBAI, India — About 300 people lined up at Apple’s store in Mumbai on Tuesday, as fans took selfies with Chief Executive Tim Cook, who inaugurated the first retail store run by the tech giant in India, underscoring the importance of its market.
“The energy, creativity, and passion in Mumbai is incredible!” Cook, who is making his first visit to India in seven years, said on Twitter. “We are so excited to open ... our first store in India.”
People flocked to the store from across India, hoping to be among the first to enter, in an opening event featuring local music and folk dancers.
Some had lined up outside since the previous night to get their hands on Apple products, even though they are available online in India.
“The fanboy inside me would not listen,” Purav Mehta, 30, told Reuters, as he waited to get Cook’s signature on his boxed mint-condition iPod Touch, which he had bought on eBay, as well as waiting to buy the Apple Watch Ultra.
Many visitors wore T-shirts in the style favored by co-founder Steve Jobs, had their hair cut in the shape of an Apple logo and one fan even brought 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 launch in India’s commercial capital.
“It’s not like buying from some normal store. There’s just no comparison. It’s so exciting.”
His love for Apple took him to store openings as a young student in New York and Boston, where he once got a chance to meet Cook, he said.
Apple has previously faced hurdles in opening physical retail stores in the South Asian nation, but its products have been available on e-commerce websites, while its online store opened in 2020.
The new store opens as Indian consumers increasingly look to upgrade their smartphones to glitzier models, with richer feature sets, from budget devices typically costing less than $120.
Still, Apple’s phones are affordable for only a few in India, where it accounts for just a 3% share of the market.
The new store, in the Reliance-owned Jio World Drive mall, opened for bloggers and tech analysts at a private event on Monday, while many Indian film and television celebrities were seen meeting Cook that night.
A second store in Delhi, the capital, is set to open on Thursday.
As Apple pushes to make India a bigger manufacturing base, some of its products, including iPhones, are being assembled in the country by Taiwanese contract electronics manufacturers Foxconn and Wistron Corp.
It also plans to assemble iPads and AirPods in India.