The DLF Select Citywalk Mall in Saket, New Delhi, was abuzz today because of Apple’s big event. Apple CEO Tim Cook launched the company’s second own-brand store in India in the presence of thousands of fans who had lined up hours before the official opening time of 10am.
The excitement among the crowd queuing up in different areas of the mall was palpable as they waited to be let into the open-plan store on the first floor of the rotunda.
Cook joined the host of Apple retail team members in a countdown before interacting with the first few customers allowed into the store at the stroke of 10.
One of the most memorable meetings was between Cook and five-year-old Ranvir Singh Sachdeva, who took the opportunity to showcase his Apple Swift programming skills on his iPad. Cook was impressed by the young talent and autographed Ranvir’s copy of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ biography for kids.
“We live in Noida and arrived to line up here at 6am,” Gurjot Singh Sachdeva, Ranvir’s father, told Connected to India. “We were almost the first people to meet Cook and Ranvir was very excited to be here.”
Ranvir has developed an affinity for scientific exhibitions and public speaking in the areas of smart cities technologies, sustainability, and space exploration.
See Also: Apple CEO Tim Cook gets big welcome as he opens first retail store in Delhi
He was involved in a summer project in 2021 with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), United States and has delivered speeches at Ministry of Education (GoI) events in 2022. Ranvir is also looking forward to Cook’s upcoming appearance during the virtual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2023.
Apple fan brings classic products for Cook to autograph
The Apple CEO also triggered the trend of customers bringing classic Apple products to launch events after his entertaining encounter with a fan who brought the classic 1984 Macintosh monitor to the Mumbai store went viral.
We caught up with 30-year-old Aayush Jain inside the store. Aayush, a longtime Apple fan and customer, was carrying with him four of Apple’s classic products he had bought over the years; the iBook clamshell, the first Apple laptop with Wi-Fi connectivity; the iPhone 2G; the first gen iPad; and the Apple Watch Zero, Apple’s first smartwatch launched in 2015, hoping to get them autographed by Cook.
Aayush narrowly missed out on meeting the Apple CEO but seemed to be having a great time nonetheless. He told us that he enjoyed using Apple products because of their “seamless experience where you don’t even realise that you’re interacting with technology”.
“I really, really wanted to see Tim Cook only because I’m a huge tech fan, and most importantly, I love Apple,” Aayush told Connected to India. He was also upbeat despite not getting Cook’s autograph.
“It was a dream to get these signed by you (Cook),” he said. “But it’s all right…if not this time, then maybe next time.”
Well-managed queues and photo-ops for fans
The planning and execution of the launches in Mumbai and Delhi this week highlighted the striking contrast between the layout of the two stores; the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) event on Tuesday saw a long queue of fans outside the doors stretching into the distance. Cook greeted the customers at the doors of the 20,000 sq ft, two-storied corner store.
In Saket, the waiting crowd was separated into manageable groups in different areas of the mall to not interfere with normal foot traffic. The organisers shepherded the customers waiting outside the entrance from one waiting area to another in groups of 30 to 50 to the location in the mall rotunda.
Wait times from first lining up in the queue to entry to the store ranged from 45 to 90 minutes. Most people we spoke to thought it was worth waiting in the long queue; they were looking forward to the Apple experience, and were enthusiastically clicking selfies and panoramic shots while waiting to be let through.
The open-plan Delhi store is half the size of the Mumbai one and has a 70-member team, half of them women, from 18 different states who can speak more than 15 Indian languages.
Apple Saket offers services like Genius Bar, dedicated pickup stations and Today at Apple sessions.
Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice-president of Retail, said “We’re thrilled to bring the best of Apple to our customers in Delhi with the opening of our second store in India, Apple Saket."
Cook, during the course of his first trip to India in seven years, met with various stakeholders and policymakers, including PM Narendra Modi, to discuss Apple's growth in India.
According to government sources, the iPhone maker is likely to double the employment base at its contract manufacturers in India to around two lakh soon.