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As Apple Bumps Up its Plans to Open More Stores, India Appears on Its Global Map

The Apple retail philosophy has been not to sell products but rather solve customers' queries on their purchase journey – delighting them

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Apple, Apple Watch, Heart health, app, health app, doctors
"The results can be shared with the doctors so that any major complication can be averted." Pixabay

Rarely in the spotlight, Apple-branded retail stores have left indelible impression on a million hearts worldwide. For Indians, who have a constant yearning to be “delighted” right in their neighbourhood, Apple stores are iconic tourist spots, to be visited while holidaying abroad.

Apple is expanding its retail footprint at a time when almost everything is being traded online, for a simple reason that Apple CEO Tim Cook — and late Steve Jobs — never looked at physical sales points as mere brick and mortar stores but places where Apple customers can get personalized attention by a warm and professional staff.

The Apple retail philosophy has been not to sell products but rather solve customers’ queries on their purchase journey – delighting them with captivating open spaces, indoor trees, uniquely-designed sitting areas and large screens for marketing as well as developers and community events.

The company is now exploring places of historical significance, revitalising those while keeping their soul intact — like the historic Carnegie Library, a 1903 Beaux-Arts building at Mount Vernon Square in Washington, DC or Apple Champs-Elysees housed in a Haussmann-era apartment building in Paris.

Apple, Stores, India
Rarely in the spotlight, Apple-branded retail stores have left indelible impression on a million hearts worldwide. Pixabay

From opening the doors of its first-ever store in the US on May 15 in 2001 to reopening its largest-ever Fifth Avenue store in New York in more than a week from now on September 20 — the same day when people will make a beeline for new iPhones — Apple has transformed physical spaces at over 500 locations globally into fruitful customer-staff exchanges.

Cook, in his keynote address during the flagship launch event at the Steve Jobs Theater on Tuesday, emphasized that Apple retail stories are the backbone for the company.

“I am so proud of our retail team and the unique experiences they deliver to our customers every day. They are amazing,” he told the gathering, after formally introducing on stage Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail + People who took over from Angela Ahrendts in April this year.

“The customer truly is at the centre of everything that we do. Thanks to our passionate team, there really is no better place to see this in action than in our stores. We’d love to share two ways we’re making the experience even better — personalization and trade-ins,” added Deirdre.

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Customers can now personalize Apple Watch at stores. With Apple Watch Series 5, the company has announced “Apple Watch Studio” where people can choose and pair any case with any band to create exactly the Watch they want.

“The ‘Apple Watch Studio’ experience is available in our stores, and online. There are nearly 1,000 different ways to represent your own personal style,” said Deirdre.

Apple last month opened registration for a series of new art-based “Today at Apple” augmented reality (AR) experiences — called [AR]T — offered at its stores around the world.

The sessions include an interactive walk featuring works by some of the world’s premier contemporary artists, an in-store session that teaches the basics of creating AR using Swift Playgrounds and an AR art installation viewable in every store worldwide.

Apple, Stores, India
For Indians, who have a constant yearning to be “delighted” right in their neighbourhood, Apple stores are iconic tourist spots, to be visited while holidaying abroad. Pixabay

As Apple bumps up its plans to open more stores, India appeared on its global map last month, with the company saying it looks forward to welcome customers at its first branded retail store in the country soon.

Welcoming the government’s decision to ease the 30 per cent local sourcing norm in single-brand retail (SBRT), Apple said: “We appreciate the support and hard work by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team to make this possible and we look forward to one day welcoming customers to India’s first Apple retail store”.

It will take some time for Apple to unveil its first branded store in the country as the location has not yet been decided.

“Apple is known for its retail stores, the experience they provide in terms of purchase, staff knowledge and other services. Considering the importance of offline as a channel in a diverse country like India, where consumers love to touch, feel and experience the products , the stores are a very important touch-point for any consumer company,” Navkendar Singh, Research Director, IDC India, told IANS.

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“The plan for opening owned stores will certainly help Apple in giving a controlled experience of its devices and services as it intends and designed them to be. In a third-party retail environment, many such things cannot be controlled by the brand. This will only add to the strong premium positioning Apple enjoys in the country,” Singh added.

Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research, said the government’s move will help Apple scale up its retail operations quickly and bring more investments in the country.

Though we do not yet buy iPhones or other Apple products the way Europeans or people in South East Asian countries do, the desire to visit a true Apple-branded retail store for a personalized encounter is growing among the aspirational millennials and Gen Z in India, which will automatically push sales.

India has no dearth of historically and culturally-rich places for a store location and this must “delight” Apple. (IANS)

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Saudi Arabia and India Explore New Avenues Together

We are working towards transforming our economy, governance and society to achieve the dreams envisaged by our leadership for our great nation

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Saudi Arabia, India, Avenues
Saudi Arabia continues its illustrious journey of progress under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Pixabay

This September 23 marks the 89th anniversary of the unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud. The glorious history of our nation was made by the sacrifices of our founder King and his successors who transformed our great country into a regional leader and global economic power.

Saudi Arabia continues its illustrious journey of progress under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

We are working towards transforming our economy, governance and society to achieve the dreams envisaged by our leadership for our great nation. Under the ambitious Vision 2030, we are now looking at a post-oil age of world-class technological research, startup development, entrepreneurial vigour and vast investment opportunities.

Our leadership has placed the Saudi citizens and their aspirations at the heart of Vision 2030. The entire development narrative of the Kingdom rests on three pillars — to build a vibrant society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation.

Saudi Arabia, India, Avenues
This September 23 marks the 89th anniversary of the unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud. Pixabay

The Kingdom’s economic and social reforms are beginning to bear fruit and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects our non-oil real growth to rise by 2.9 per cent in 2019. The current IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook has ranked Saudi Arabia in the 26th position, making the Kingdom the seventh most competitive country among our G20 peers. The World Bank too has ranked the Kingdom as the fourth largest reformer within G20.

We aim to be among the top 10 capital markets in the world by 2030. We are also focusing on logistics. Our aim is to attract 1.6 trillion riyals in private investments over the next decade through National Industrial Development and Logistics Program.

Multiple giga-projects including Neom, Qiddiya, Red Sea Tourism Project etc. are all set to change the touristic map of Saudi Arabia. Special mention goes to Green Riyadh, one of the world’s largest urban greening projects. With the planting of 7.5 million trees, the green cover in the Saudi capital will increase from 1.5 per cent to 9.1 per cent of the total area.

The per capita green space availability will thus increase to nearly thrice of World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation. The project will help reduce average ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and use more than one million cubic metres of treated sewage effluent daily for irrigation.

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King Salman Park Project is yet another grand project slated to become the world’s biggest city park — complete with a National Theatre, an Opera House and an 18-hole royal golf course.

As part of the Vision, the Kingdom is aiming at localising strategic technologies and enabling Saudi young people to work with advanced state-of-the-art technologies.

With a $12 billion IT market and a $10 billion emerging technology market, the Kingdom is today one of the world’s most attractive economies. Our strong digital infrastructure has increased the mobile internet speed four times, surpassing the global average; increased fiber network coverage by 50 per cent to more than one million additional houses and provided 100 per cent internet access.

The newly strengthened communication infrastructure has also enabled the health sector to aspire to contribute about $500 million to the GDP by 2030. Our e-government initiative is building government institutions that are effective, transparent and accountable — we are issuing commercial licences within 24 hours, renewing passports in five minutes and issuing digital authorisation in less than 10 minutes.

Saudi Arabia, India, Avenues
The glorious history of our nation was made by the sacrifices of our founder King and his successors who transformed our great country into a regional leader and global economic power. Pixabay

We are also aiming at full automation of Haj related processes to make the journey more comfortable. The Maqam online portal is issuing electronic visas within minutes of completing the forms. New technologies have been implemented at the Jeddah and Madinah airports to facilitate the pilgrims. Makkah Road Initiative is also enabling the pilgrims to enter the Kingdom via dedicated lanes in record time.

In partnership with the private sector, we are also developing cloud technologies to unify all pilgrim-related data so that real-time insights can be used to improve crowd management, transport and logistics. We are also tapping into mobile applications and the IoT to promote digitally administered services for the pilgrims.

Developing a robust infrastructure for public and commercial transport is quintessential to realising our dreams for our nation. The Kingdom is investing heavily on building modern transportation networks to strengthen its position as a distinct logistics platform between the three continents — Asia, Europe and Africa.

The new Riyadh Metro will be able to carry 1.16 million passengers daily, while the Riyadh Bus Network will be able to carry about 900,000 passengers every day to feed the Metro trains. They are part of the ambitious Riyadh Public Transit Network Project (RPTN).

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Saudi Railway Company (SAR) and Huawei will work together to jointly design and innovate in the field of smart railways, including the application of a next-generation railway wireless network, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, cloud services and 5G across SAR’s railway network. In this context, the Haramain High-Speed Railway has become fully operational with the capacity of transporting 60 million people annually between Makkah and Madinah.

Saudi Arabia is leading the global campaign against terrorism, terror financing and extremism. We recently became the first Arab country to gain membership of the elite Financial Action Task Force that works against terror financing. Our leadership’s endeavour to promote peace and stability in the region has been persistent.

Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a historic peace agreement in September 2018 in Jeddah in the presence of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, ending over two decades of conflict. The UN Secretary-General lauded the Kingdom and its leadership’s role in contributing towards bringing the two parties together and facilitating the peace agreement.

Our values guide us in our humanitarian endeavour. The Kingdom’s development and humanitarian assistance amounted to 3.7 per cent of the Saudi GDP, surpassing the UN proposed rate of 0.7 per cetn of GDP. The Kingdom has been instrumental in extending financial aid estimated at $116 billion to 95 developing countries.

As providing adequate funding to implement Sustainable Development Goals is one of the most important challenges facing the world, as hosts of G20 Summit in November 2020, we are determined to ensure sustainability through an agenda focused on climate change, food security, access to energy and water, and investment in human capital.

We look forward to India’s continued partnership. Saudi Arabia has valued India as a close friend and valuable strategic partner. Our dynamic cultural, economic and political partnership is based on mutual respect and shared interests.

There are nearly 3 million Indians who live and work in Saudi Arabia and their contribution in the development of the Kingdom has been significant. Our newly announced residency permit scheme for qualified international expatriates will further attract global entrepreneurs, innovators and investors from India and across the world.

The visit of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz earlier this year to India has been a historic milestone in terms of bilateral co-operation between our two countries with the setting up of the Strategic Partnership Council. Saudi Arabia is looking at making investments in India potentially worth $100 billion in the areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining, manufacturing, education and health.

There is huge untapped potential available in merchandise trade, particularly in non-oil trade and we are enhancing cooperation in economic, commercial, investment, cultural and technological fields. This year, more than 40 opportunities of joint collaboration and investments across various sectors have been identified and our current bilateral trade of approximately $34 billion will undoubtedly continue to increase in near future.

Saudi Aramco’s proposed investments in India’s energy sector such as the $44 billion West Coast Refinery and Petrochemical project in Maharashtra and long term partnership with Reliance reflects Saudi Arabia’s commitment of working together with India for development and prosperity of our two peoples.

The visit indeed heralded a new dawn for Saudi-India ties, marked by the inauguration of the new diplomatic complex of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. The occasion was graced by the presence of Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Member of the Cabinet Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir and the late Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj. The building has been designed to symbolise the architecture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and convey a hospitable relationship between the Saudi Arabian Embassy and the Indian people.

On the margins of the G20 Summit in Japan this June, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and further discussed deepening bilateral cooperation in trade and investment, energy security and counter-terrorism, among other areas. As we explore new avenues together, the historic bonds between our two peoples will continue its importance as an anchor of our friendly ties and strategic partnership. (IANS)