Though Apple’s iconic offline stores in India is still a way behind but the company first planning to set up its own online iPhone stores by this year largely riding on the fact that local manufacturers can have a direct online presence in the country. Apple will initially start online store by selling iPhone SE which will be manufactured in India and the product portfolio will be expanded as it grows the local production to other models. Two senior industry officials said Apple’s online store plans does not require foreign direct investment (FDI) approval in retail since the government allows companies to directly sell online models manufactured locally. The company plans to start assembling of iPhones in Bengaluru by June. Apple will start its online store by selling iPhone SE manufactured in India and will be in line with government policies. The company is hopeful to start the online store in India around Diwali, said an industry insider, adding that it may also sell some accessories which will be sourced from India. For Apple, around 50-55% of the iPhones sold in India is generated from online sales as compared to the smartphone industry average of 30%. Apple will not compete on price with compete on price with online marketplaces for the products it sells through its own online store. Instead, Apple plans to differentiate its online store in India from marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart by offering value-added services such as laser engraving to personalise the handset, sell models or variants which are exclusive as a dedicated model, colour option or storage space, the executive said. Globally, Apple operates its online store in 39 countries including several of them which do not have the company owned offline stores which is present across 20 countries.