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File photo of Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, attending the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 10, 2019 in Sun Valley, Idaho. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI — Apple announced Sept. 18 that it will launch its first online store in India next week, as it seeks to increase sales in one of the world’s fastest-growing smartphone markets.

The company at present uses third-party online and offline retailers to sell its products in the country.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a tweet that the company “can’t wait to connect with our customers and expand support in India.”

The Sept. 23 launch comes ahead of India’s major Hindu festival season beginning next month.

With a nearly 1.4 billion people, including millions of new Internet users every month, India has become a key focus of tech giants over the last few years.

In August, three contract manufacturers for Apple iPhones and South Korea’s Samsung applied for large-scale electronics manufacturing rights in India under a $6.5 billion incentive scheme announced by the government.

Apple assembles some smartphones at Foxconn and Wistron’s plants in two southern Indian states.

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