Apple ended a reliance on third-party retailers in India with the opening of the first of two official outlets in the nation, a move so important to the company CEO Tim Cook (pictured, right) attended the launch in person.

The store in a shopping centre in Mumbai opened earlier today (18 April), with a branch in Delhi scheduled to join it on 20 April.

Apple stated the stores are the culmination of a 25-year presence in India which spawned various education and development initiatives, along with a growing manufacturing presence.

The vendor emphasised support and training as major draws for customers to its outlets, and highlighted the use of a dedicated array of solar panels to power the store, resulting in “zero reliance on fossil fuels”.

Apple’s move comes as the Indian smartphone market faces challenges. IDC data showed a 10 per cent year-on-year drop in shipments to 144 million units in 2022, a figure it stated was the lowest since 2019.

IDC’s numbers showed Apple maintained a leading position in the premium-tier comprising devices priced $500 and upwards, which the analyst company noted registered 55 per cent growth in shipments, but the vendor did not feature in the analyst company’s overall list of top-five vendors.

Counterpoint Research figures show a broadly similar trend, with Apple ranked second behind Samsung “in terms of shipment value” in 2022 and continuing “to lead the premium smartphone segment”.

Strong demand for the iPhone 13 resulted in Apple eclipsing Samsung by shipment value in Q4 2022.

However, research director Tarun Pathak highlighted on Twitter Apple’s Indian market share remains well below 10 per cent, making it the vendor’s weakest standing in the top five global smartphone markets also comprising the US and UK, China and Japan.