What’s the fuss about? It is just a store, right? It sells stuff! That too, expensive stuff!

If we had a Rupee for every time we heard that statement either on social networks or in our vicinity, about Apple opening its Apple Stores in India, we would have made enough to purchase a few things from those newly launched Stores themselves. At first glance, the statement seems to make sense – after all, the Apple Store is a store (it is called one!). It stocks all of Apple’s products and sells them to consumers who come there. That is what all stores do, right?

apple store india

An Apple Store is a store

The answer to that is a bit complicated. For, the Apple Store is not really your run-of-the-mill conventional retail store. Well, it is that at some level because when you walk into an Apple Store (we have seen the one in Delhi), you will see pretty much what you get to see in most retail stores – a lot of products. Yes, the arrangement is kind of tasteful and well thought out (you can have six people at a table trying out iPhones without the table looking crowded), but there is no way in which you can mistake it for anything else than a retail store. There are products. There are people there to tell you more about the products. You can buy the products. All of which should logically add up to: Shop/Store.

Apple Stores, however, throw a few spanners in this logic. Yes, you can go to an Apple Store to buy Apple products. In fact, they are THE stores to go to if you definitely want an Apple product because they are unlikely to be out of stock of a device or service that has been launched by Apple in the market, irrespective of spec and shade variant.

All the products? Yep! Lowest Prices? Nope

But buying an Apple product is not the only reason you go to an Apple Store. In fact, knowing many cost-conscious Indian consumers, there is a very good chance that many will NOT go to an Apple Store to buy an Apple product. The reason is simple – while the Apple Store will have every Apple product released in the market, it will, in all probability, have the product at its official price. And unless a lot changes in the Indian market, that official price is generally higher than the price being charged by some other online and offline retailers.

the apple store: a few dollars more? love actually! - apple bkc mumbai india opening day customer with apple watch series 8

For instance, at the time of writing, the Apple Store was selling the iPhone 14 at a starting price of Rs 79,900, while Croma, a multi-brand retail store, was selling the same at Rs 72,990, while online retailers Amazon and JioMart were selling it at Rs 71,999 and Rs 71,900, respectively. That’s a very clear price edge that the Apple Store is conceding, and by all accounts, this is not going to change in the coming days. You will get every Apple product at an Apple Store, but not necessarily at the most affordable price (although we do hear that there will be some very good swap deals).

The prices, then, are not a key attraction of the Apple Stores. There will be a certain segment of consumers that will make purchases from the Apple Store simply because it is the Apple Store, but that is a relatively small segment – the one that previously picked up phones at official prices from exclusive third-party stores. There will also be some folks who will hang around the Store because it is perceived as a ‘cool place’ for geeks. But the real difference the Apple Store will make is not to any of these small-ish segments.

Not your regular retail store with pushy execs

the apple store: a few dollars more? love actually! - apple saket delhi india opening day customer with iphone 14

For us, the greatest attraction of an Apple Store is the fact that it actually brings in a whole new buying experience to Indian consumers. And it does so in areas that have generally been the Achilles Heel of a number of retail stores in India. Step into most retail stores, and it is a fair chance that you will be set upon by executives trying their best to make sure you buy something. You generally get access to very few products to ‘try’ and will generally be ushered out (not always politely) if you do not seem to show any purchasing potential.

The Apple Stores are different. You are not going to be pushed to make a purchase, and almost every major product is available for demonstration – a friend of ours says it was the first time he could actually try out an AirPods Max at an electronics store in Delhi. From what we have heard from those who have visited Apple Stores in other countries, the staff in Apple Stores are very supportive and try to be more helpful to the consumer than to the brand’s balance sheet.

Tech support is actually supportive

the apple store: a few dollars more? love actually! - apple saket delhi india opening day customer trying apple watch

Then there is the issue of technical support. In India, seeking assistance from most tech brands’ after-sales service and support teams is the equivalent of unlocking a nightmare level in one’s life. Taking a device to a service center or any place where tech support is available generally involves arriving at the venue, waiting for one’s turn, and often getting nothing more than a very vague and often hurried diagnosis of what could be wrong. Apple is trying to change that in its Store with the concept of Genius Bar. You can basically make an appointment with a tech expert (‘Genius‘ in AppleSpeak) and, at the time given, go to the Store and speak to the Genius, who will patiently try to help you out with your problem. It is a far cry from what we have seen in most brand service outlets, where the most one can expect is a ‘free service camp.’

Finally, there are those Today at Apple sessions, where experts called Apple Creatives will tell people how to get more out of their Apple products. From what we hear, there will be plenty here, not just for beginners but even for professionals and experts in their fields. One of our friends claims he learned a whole lot about handling RAW format photography and editing from these sessions. Other brands have tried doing the same in India, but they have tended to make these sessions special events, whereas, at Apple Stores, they will be regular affairs and part of the routine!

The closest thing to Apple Cupertino in India

the apple store: a few dollars more? love actually! - apple saket delhi india opening day apple pickup

And this is where we really think Apple Stores will make the biggest difference in India. Yes, they are stores that will sell products, but it is really what happens in addition to the regular selling that could make a huge difference to India’s tech landscape, where consumers are used to brands being transactional and commercial in their relationships. Apple’s consumer culture is supposed to be different, but then it has never been seen in India, as Apple products have been sold by franchisees. That changes with the Apple Stores.

The Apple Stores are not about the sales, but the experience, which is why Steve Jobs is believed to have actually based the first Apple Store on the hospitality industry rather than on classic tech showrooms. An Apple Store is not just a place where you are assured of getting every product that the brand has officially launched in India. It is the closest thing you can get to a slice of the Apple, Cupertino, in India.

In Hollywood terms, the Apple Stores in India are more “Love Actually” than “For a Few Dollars More.” Whether they will be a box-office success depends much more on the folks behind the counters in the Stores than the products on the tables or on the walls. If they succeed, the Apple Stores in India could well make other tech brands look at their existing retail experiences and… Think Different!

Nimish Dubey contributed to this article.

Was this article helpful?