Apple plans to set up stores in India

Indian government rules had stood in the way of Apple's direct entry

Apple has applied to the Indian government for permission to set up a wholly-owned store operated by the company, taking advantage of changing rules for retail in India.

The bid by Apple to set up a direct retail presence in India coincides with the company's move to strengthen its presence in a key market that is still seeing high growth in the smartphone market. The company's phones are currently sold through third-party retailers.

Indian rules currently allow 100 percent foreign ownership in "single-brand" retail stores if they source 30 percent of their products locally. But the government recently said it would consider on a case-to-case basis applications that do not meet the local sourcing requirement.

An Apple spokesman on Wednesday confirmed that the iPhone maker had filed an application to set up a store. He would not disclose how many branded stores the company plans in the country.

Apple products have been viewed as premium by Indian buyers, even though the company started selling earlier models of its phones at lower prices, to give the market for its products a boost.

Samsung Electronics led the Indian smartphone market followed by Indian vendor Micromax in the third quarter of 2015, according to IDC, with Apple not figuring even among the top five in the price-sensitive market.

Over 28 million smartphones were shipped to India in the third quarter of 2015, up 21.4 percent from 23.3 million units for the same period last year, IDC said.

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