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Apple CEO Tim Cook confirms first India Apple Store will open in 2021

Apple will be opening its first retail outlet in India in 2021, CEO Tim Cook has advised to shareholders, marking the iPhone maker's initial self-owned outlet in an important potential market.

Speaking to investors at the annual shareholder meeting at Apple Park on Wednesday, Cook answered a question from a shareholder about its India retail strategy. In response, Cook confirmed it will be opening its first physical retail outlet in the country in 2021.

Cook offered a further reason for opening up its own outlet, suggesting "I don't want somebody else to run the brand for us."

So far, Apple has had to rely on a network of third-party resellers to sell its iPhones in the country, without any first-party representation. Government restrictions over stores owned by non-Indian firms have caused problems with Apple's creation of an outlet, forcing the retail partnerships.

"We wouldn't be a very good partner in retail," Cook said in response to a question about India. "We like to do things our way."

The Indian government has been loosening its local-sourcing requirements, which are a prerequisite for international firms like Apple to do business directly in the country. One major rule change in Apple's favor is allowing exports to count towards the 30% local sourcing rule, which covers any iPhones or other products locally-produced by Foxconn or Wistron in the country and exported to other territories.

In October, it was reported Apple had leased a location between 20,000 and 25,000 square feet in Mumbai's Maker Maxity mall, spread over three floors. One floor is rumored to be an experience center, a second would be dedicated to retailing, and a third for the service center.

Apple is also anticipated to start online sales in India in late 2020.