Apple will open its first retail store in Brazil by mid-March, according to press reports. Its arrival signifies the country's growing "new middle class" wealth and emergence as one of the world's leading economic powers.
The store will be located in Rio de Janeiro and should open just before Brazil hosts the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which should attract several hundred thousand tourists based upon the draw from previous events. The country is also South America's leading economy, which is growing, and has a population of over 200M people.
This is likely the beginning of Apple's expansion into the country, which CEO Tim Cook identified as a "huge opportunity" during a January 2012 earnings call.
One inhibiting factor is that its products are more expensive in Brazil than in other markets due to a tax on electronics that don't include components manufactured within its borders. An iPhone 5 costs over US$1,000 in Brazil due to its government's decision to discourage imports.
However, IDC found that Brazilians are now buying around 21 million smartphones annually, so the potential market is substantial. Apple just needs to be more competitive.
Android has around a 56% market share, compared to Apple's 0.4%, Kantar Worldpanel, a market research firm, found in October 2012. Apple has a lot room to grow, and has worked with regulators to bring its latest phones to market in Brazil earlier than usual.
(image credit: Apple, David Worthington)
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com