India relaxes rules that kept Apple out of retail

Foreign investment "30 per cent local content" rule relaxed

Indian tech consumers might soon be able to savour the rich, human experience of making a Genius Bar booking to try and sort out a problem with an iThing, after that country relaxed the rules that have kept companies like Apple from opening their branded stores in that country.

The roadblock has been a law that demanded retailers stock one-third of their shelves with local products, something that's clearly impossible if all of your products emerge from a Foxconn bunker.

That's about to change: as part of a broader package of foreign investment reforms, the Indian government is going to offer at least a three-year relaxation of the rules, and if tech companies keep the latest stuff on their stores' shelves, it could be extended to five years.

Apple would hope to improve sales of its higher-end products, and analysts told Reuters the government hopes that with a bigger market in the subcontinent, Cupertino might consider manufacture there.

It's not only Apple whose logo might appear on a glass palace: Sony, Samsung and Microsoft all operate branded retail outlets.

IKEA, which is building outlets in Hyderabad and Mumbia, will also benefit, offering locals the prospect of acquiring their own collections of Allen keys and leftover furniture parts.

The foreign investment package, outlined here by the Times of India, also offers an easier time for airlines wanting to fly international routes and relaxes the rules applying to defence investments. ®

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