Apple hunting space for flagship Indian store & other first-wave outlets

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Apple is already at work finding real estate for a flagship retail store in India, a move which has reportedly prompted Samsung to step up its retail game in the country as well.

Brokerage companies tapped by Apple are currently searching for a space between 15,000 and 20,000 square feet in malls and high streets, The Times of India said on Monday. The company is also allegedly searching for places to build smaller stores measuring between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet. Specifically, three anonymous industry executives claimed that Apple is scouting in Mumbai, the National Capital Region, Bengaluru, and Pune.

In response, Samsung is said to be planning at least one flagship store measuring over 15,000 square feet. It's also hoping to overhaul its Indian retail chain in general — entailing some 1,100 franchised locations — with updated fixtures and designs, including more space for tablets and wearables.

Some Samsung stores could reach 2,000 to 2,500 square feet, as opposed to the current 1,000. Despite using a franchise model, Samsung is said to be taking direct involvement in the makeover.

Thanks in part to a deep retail presence, Samsung is the leader in the Indian smartphone market with a share of 26 percent. Apple, by contrast, has a meager 2 percent share, hampered not just by a limited reseller network but by iPhones being far too expensive for most Indians. Until last month, the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5c were still on sale in the country as a way of staying cost-competitive.

Apple must wait on approval by the Indian government to begin building any official Apple Store. Although the government is purportedly willing to fast-track approval, the company at one point had to resubmit its application due to format problems.