Apple doesn’t operate its own retail stores in India, home to 1.3 billion people, and instead relies on a network of resellers.

And apparently the company has decided to go big in India with a network of 500 new reseller stores, The Times of India newspaper reported Friday.

The move is part of a plan to expand Apple’s presence in smaller towns and cities. The upcoming stores are said to be iOS-centric, focusing on Apple’s tremendously popular mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones.

Indian cities that will be getting these stores reportedly include Amritsar, Pathankot, Moga, Coimbatore, Trichy, Nagpur and Nasik.

The stores should operate on a franchise basis, with Redington being one of the partners, with Apple expected to further the initiative by upping spending for direct advertising.

Redington and Ingram are currently Apple’s key distributors in India, with the former accounting for nearly 70 percent of Apples sales in the country. Both firms supply Apple products to regional distributors, multi-product trade channels and Apple Premium Reseller stores and Apple Authorized Re-seller outlets.

Although the California firm has been in India since 2011, it’s not a dominating brand, as opposed to rival Samsung which dominates the Indian phone market, but “all this will change now,” according to a top company source who spoke to the paper.

“The company is finalizing plans to become a serious player in India, which is being seen as a strategic and one of the most promising markets globally,” said the source.

Tim Cook & Co. have reportedly “tentatively approved” the move, with final details being worked out as we speak. The upcoming stores should be smaller in size, approximately 300-600 square feet versus existing 2,000 square feet stores in bigger cities.

Apple will also need to focus on solving trademark disputes in the fast-growing market of India as a local company called iVoice Enterprise recently challenged ‘iPhone’ trademark and asked the country’s Intellectual Property Appellate Board to remove it from their registry.

[The Times of India]