Apple is getting ready to finally open its first online-only retail store in India, a 1.35 billion people opportunity. In addition, it’s already planning a second physical outlet in the country.

Saritha Rai, writing for Bloomberg today:

The online store will be ready for operations just ahead of the festive Dussehra-Diwali spending season, according to the person asked not to be named discussing confidential plans. Apple lobbied New Delhi for years to get around regulations that force companies such as Apple to source 30 percent of components locally.

However, India’s once-strict prohibitions against foreign direct retail have been relaxing in the past two years or so. The article mentions that Apple had originally planned to launch the Indian online store last year, but the coronavirus pandemic disrupted those plans.

There have been signs that Apple is about to establish its official retail presence in India. Earlier this May, for instance, it began selling the HomePod smart speaker and build-to-order Mac computers via its network of Authorized Resellers in the country.

Apple, which has just made history by surpassing $2 trillion in market value, is boosting investments in the South Asian country to reduce its dependence on China as a market and manufacturing base amid escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Apple’s primary hub for the manufacture of the iPhone and many of its other products is in China, but it’s no secret the company has been looking to branch out. One area of particular interest for Apple has been India. As we reported this week, Apple has confirmed that the new iPhone SE is being assembled in India for local customers.

Apple dominated India’s premium smartphone segment with a market share of 49 percent during the second quarter, according to researcher IDC. The newer iPhone 11 and the iPhone XR together comprised 28 percent of high-end shipments, indicating that demand for pricier iPhones is growing which is a contrast to a couple of years ago when cheaper and old models accounted for a big chunk of iPhone sales.

Apple has so far relied of third-party resellers to move its products in India. With that in mind, opening its online store in India should indeed help move the needle in terms of sales and could be a prelude to building a series of physical retail stores across the country.

We know from before that a massive Apple retail store will be opening in Mumbai next year. And according to the Bloomberg article, Apple is already planning a second physical outlet in Bangalore, near Minsk Square.