Apple is set to open its first Apple Store in Southeast Asia in Singapore this year. But, if a report from a local property news site is true, the next Apple store in the region may be none other than Kuala Lumpur.
PTLM, a property lifestyle portal, reports that Apple is “currently studying a plan” to open an Apple store at the heart of KL’s shopping district, quoting a source:
If the Kuala Lumpur store is approved, it will be a major milestone for Apple’s presence in Malaysia, and it will be the second Apple Store in the Southeast Asia region.
The challenge now is to find the right location, possibly in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s shopping district. It has to be located in an iconic and high traffic area. It will be a major boost for the local retail industry.
Of course, the fact that the portal is quoting an unnamed source makes it highly dubious at face value – and that if anything from this bears fruit, it’d still take a year or more before the store opens. Plus, the fact that Apple Malaysia’s jobs page shows zero openings compared to Singapore’s 123 open positions – mostly for its retail store – indicates that this source is very, very high up the chain, or it is just mere speculation.
That said, there are indications that an Apple Store in Malaysia could be a theory worth exploring. The fact that Singapore – a first world country that is regularly in Apple’s first wave of countries for product availability – is Apple’s first destination is not a surprise, but Malaysia remains a strong market for Apple products.
In the first half of 2015, Apple’s iPhones claimed 11% market share in Malaysia despite stiff competition from Chinese smartphone vendors, according to IDC. Its premium MacBook laptops remain the choice of creative professionals.
Plus, with ever-slowing smartphone sales in mature markets, Apple is slowly turning towards emerging regions such as Southeast Asia to maintain its momentum – IDC also reports that global smartphone sales in Q1 2015 grew 66% from the previous year.
That’s on top of significant investments into China, where Apple has 33 Apple Stores around the country; it aims to open 40 in total by the end of 2016. It has also opened an R&D centre in India, tapping into another massive market for future growth.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that the company’s new iPhone SE, Apple’s most affordable iPhone yet, is aimed at consumers who are upgrading from an iPhone 5 or 5S which remain very popular in Asia.
In Malaysia, Apple products are sold offline via several premium resellers, including Machines, Mac City, Switch, and Epi Centre. Apple maintains an online presence for Malaysian consumers, selling its latest products via its web store.
Having an Apple Store is a big thing beyond just a status symbol. There are only 17 countries where Apple Stores exist, and each are usually beautifully designed while retaining a uniform feel – you know you’re at an Apple Store when you’re in one. Some iconic stores were designed by famous architects, while the Apple Store in Brussels was designed by none other than Apple’s Jony Ive himself.
Someone even created an online visual catalogue of every Apple Store front in existence, and because you can find virtually anything on the internet, here’s how an Apple store might look like in Pavilion KL.
The biggest hint that this could be more than just a rumour comes from our Prime Minister himself. Earlier this year, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was in Silicon Valley to visit Apple and Tesla’s headquarters, and he was said to have suggested that Apple open an app development facility for Malaysian app developers – and the possibility of opening a store right in the heart of Malaysia.
It is definitely still early days for now, and we’ll definitely be keeping an eye out and an ear to the ground for more details. Remember, six months before Singapore’s mainstream media reported about the Apple Store opening, hidden in this property and business report was the fact that Apple was looking for a “flagship retail outlet” in Orchard Road.