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Friday, January 20, 2012, 08:30 am PT (11:30 am ET)

'Doors are now open' for Apple to expand retail presence into India

Apple could open its first retail stores in India, the second most populous country in the world, now that the government allows full ownership of single-brand retail stores by foreign companies.

Citing a senior official in India's Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, livemint.com reported this week (via iPhoneHacks) that Apple has been in discussions with the government for some time to bring its retail stores to India. The company previously attempted to open a technical support center in India in 2006, but eventually backed off those plans.

Now that the policy change has occurred, though, the unnamed official said "the doors are now open" for Apple to bring its highly successful retail stores to India.

Though there are not currently any Apple stores in India, the iPhone maker does have reseller deals with chains like Imagine and iStore. Most of Apple's retail stores are in the U.S., though it has expanded in recent years the U.K., France, Germany, Japan and China.

India has an estimated population of over 1.2 billion people, placing it just behind the 1.3 billion who live in China, the world's largest country by population. China has become an extremely important part of Apple's growth, as the company's entire product line has become popular in the East Asian country.

India


Last week's attempted launch of the new iPhone 4S in China drew huge crowds, but also caused such a stir that Apple was prompted to postpone the launch of its latest smartphone after the masses became too unruly. The company's official retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai opted not to sell the iPhone 4S last Friday, though Apple's carrier partners and authorized resellers did initiate sales.

The iPhone 4S went on sale in India, the world's second-largest mobile market, last November. By all accounts, that launch went off without a hitch, as Apple continued to roll out the iPhone 4S to new countries in its fastest international expansion ever.