Apple is increasing its efforts in India to woo consumers, with the company’s country head Maneesh Dhir looking to drive sales of its smartphones and tablets in India’s smaller cities and towns, the Economic Times reports.

In the three years that Dhir has joined Apple, he spearheaded efforts to push Apple products in the Indian market by boosting the network of Apple-exclusive stores, shortening the time span between the launch of new models overseas and in India, and expanded the Indian team threefold to more than 150 executives.

Last year, Apple turned to independent distributors to sell its iPhone throughout the country, as the lack of carrier subsidies limited adoption in India. Apple has also reportedly been keen to push its iPhone in India with more advertising as well as numerous discount schemes and monthly installment options. The company quietly launched the iPhone 5 in India in November last year.

Next up for Apple in India: it wants to blaze its way into smaller cities and towns through its iPhones, iPads and iPods, as the population in these smaller markets is becoming richer and youths are aspiring toward Apple products.

Apple is targeting 100 exclusive standalone stores under the franchisee model in these smaller Indian markets, and is seeking to roll them out this fiscal year, executives at a closed-door meeting hosting by Apple India told the Economic Times.

India is a market with lots of potential

According to figures from research firm Canalys in August, India managed to snag third place in worldwide smartphone shipments in Q2 2013, thanks to rapid growth of 129 percent to hit 9.0 million. It is little wonder that besides increasing its efforts to appeal to Chinese consumers, Apple also wants a slice of the pie in India.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said during a Q3 2013 earnings call in July that iPhone sales in India during the quarter were up 400 percent year-on-year, while the iPad posted double-digit unit growth in India in the same period.

However, the increasing threat from low-cost manufacturers in these countries is a problem for Apple. Canalys noted back in August that the only international vendor to really succeed in India was Samsung.

Local vendors have been doing well in the price-conscious Indian market instead. One of them is Micromax, a handset manufacturer that has been threatening to tip Samsung off its leadership position in the Indian smartphone market. Another one is Karbonn, which was the third-ranked handset manufacturer in India during Q2 2013 according to IDC, with a market share of 13 percent.

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