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Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 02:41 pm PT (05:41 pm ET)

Apple to open small stores in India, focus on entry-level iOS devices in battle for growing market

According to a report published on Tuesday, Apple is looking to open a series of smaller "neighborhood shops" in India to push the iPhone in a region dominated by cheaper offerings from rival Samsung.

iPhone India


Citing sources familiar with Apple's Indian retail plans, The Economic Times reports the Cupertino, Calif., company is working with local distributors to set up small shops in large cities and "tier II" markets in what is potentially a grab at Samsung's mobile device marketshare.

Unlike the grandiose flagship Apple Stores synonymous with Apple retail, the Indian outlets — run by distributors — will reportedly be far more humble at 400 to 600 square feet. With the limited floor space, Apple is looking to focus primarily on mobile products like the iPhone and iPad, which are to be positioned next to lower-end Macs and iPods.

"Apple wants to focus more on its entry-level models in these stores such as iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPad mini and iPad 2, which are essentially in the sub-30,000 segment and also its largest-selling products in India," said an unnamed senior executive of one Apple trade partner.

The publication notes Apple distributors Redington and Ingram Micro, along with smaller partners, will be part of the new push. Sources say Apple is looking to place the smaller stores in more affluent areas with strong smartphone penetration and large student population.

Currently, Apple is a laggard in the Indian smartphone market, capturing about two percent of volume in the December 2013 quarter. In comparison, devices from market leader Samsung accounted for 32 percent while Micromax held second place with 21 percent over the same period.

As is seen in other markets, the value of Apple's market share is higher than its competitors, but volumes could definitely be higher. To that end, the company is rumored to be reintroducing the iPhone 4 in India, possibly at a price of 21,900 rupees, or $360 at today's exchange rates. Currently, the latest iPhone 5c sells for about 41,900 rupees, or $687.