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Apple to increase retail store presence in India, could be preparing for budget iPhone

bring-out-your-dead-what-to-do-with-your-old-iphone-625x416-cIn July 2012, Apple CEO Tim Cook was quizzed about the company’s future in India, and was quoted as saying he saw the potential for higher sales in the country, adding that, “Business is growing in India.” Fast forward to today, and news has emerged that three of India’s major Apple franchises have been asked by the company to increase the amount of stores to about 200 by 2015. Additionally, Apple will be adding more concessions inside larger stores.

Apple doesn’t have its own network of Apple retail stores in the country, so must rely on resellers to get its products out into the hands of customers. However, selling high-end smartphones in India is very different from doing so in the U.S. and Europe. A report in the Financial Times calls India a price sensitive market, and says the iPhone is restricted to wealthy buyers or the black market. One of the reasons Android is so popular in India and other developing markets, is its availability at varied price points.

You know where this is going, as increasing the amount of stores selling phones only a few people can afford won’t help Apple’s position in India, but if they’re selling a lower cost iPhone it could. A budget iPhone has been rumored since before the beginning of the year, and its potentially sub-$400 price point could see it compete with its cheaper Android rivals. The tripling of Apple resellers in India is a significant move, and one which wouldn’t make much sense without them being given the right product to sell.

If you’re in the position of buying an iPhone 5 already, don’t expect the low-cost iPhone to blow your socks off with its super exciting specification, as leaked information suggests it’ll have a plastic bodyshell, 3G-only connectivity, a non-Retina screen and a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. An analyst at RBC Markets believes the low-cost iPhone will be launched in June or July this year, along with the new iPhone 5S, and could see Apple rake in another $22 billion from sales of 500 million during 2014.

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