The tech giant also has similar, immediate plans to set up an Apple Store in neighbouring Singapore, at the Knightsbridge on the popular Orchard Road. The store is expected to open later this year.
“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,” according to the source.
“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,” he added.
It was said that an Apple Store not only attracts domestic visitors, but also regional and global tourists.
According to IDC, a global market intelligence firm, the smartphone market in Malaysia is dominated by South Korean giant Samsung.
Smartphone brands such as Asus, Huawei and Lenovo are notable competitors and have been gaining market share with new product launches. The fastest growing brands are China-based brands such as OPPO, Xiaomi and OnePlus.
Apple currently sells its products in Malaysia through its Online Store and authorised reseller chains in the country.
With 14 stores, Machines Sdn Bhd is currently the largest Premium Reseller in Malaysia. It is also an Apple Authorised Service Provider and retails a large range of Apple gadget accessories.
Another Apple reseller in the country is Mac City Sdn Bhd, which has 12 stores nationwide, and Singapore-based EpiCentre has 6 stores in Malaysia.
Most recently, India was the latest country that Apple Inc. announced its intention to open an Apple Store. It plans to open within 18 months from the announcement.
This year alone, it was reported that Apple plans to open 50 stores worldwide, 75% of which will be located outside the United States.
Apple currently has a direct retail presence in 17 countries – Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
China is expected to be Apple’s biggest market in coming years. Apple opened its 33rd store in Qingdao, China on 30 January this year with the goal of hitting 40 stores by end of this year.
It was reported that across Southeast Asia, which counts a cumulative population of over 500 million, sales of smartphones grew by 66% year-on-year to reach 24 million units by the first quarter of 2015.
Smartphones with 4G capability accounted for 25% of the total smartphone market share.
While that volume is far below China or the United States, the regional market is far from saturated — unlike China and the West — and that means opportunity for companies like Apple.
Over the years, brands such as Samsung, Lenovo and Huawei have expanded their retail store presence in Malaysian malls.
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Meanwhile, in another news, leading Japanese video game publisher Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. has confirmed that it will be opening a sales office in Kuala Lumpur this coming third quarter.
Malaysia is one of Bandai Namco’s key markets within the region.
Bandai Namco’s presence in the Malaysian market will help the company strengthen its growth plans for the Southeast Asian market, which has a relatively young demographic and growing population.