With over 400 Apple retail stores worldwide, you might be surprised to know that Apple hasn't yet expanded its retail chain into Latin America. According to a recent report from 9to5Mac, however, that may be poised to change in just a few months.
Mark Gurman reports that Apple is planning to open up a retail store in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by March of 2014. Interestingly enough, the report claims that Apple is aiming to relocate some seasoned Apple retail employees down to Brazil to help get things up and running.
Also worth noting is that the timing of the store opening will be such that it will be up and running ahead of one of the world's most popular events -- the World Cup.
The opening of the Apple Store in Rio de Janeiro during this time period, a source added, is perfectly scheduled to occur in the few months before the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The internationally-watched sporting event takes place between June and July of 2014 at a stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Tourists visiting the event from across the globe will likely bring an uptake in visits to the new Apple retail in the region. This move would not be unprecedented: in the months prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Apple opened up a flagship store in the city.
It's well established that Apple's chain of retail store are incredibly profitable, and with the bulk of Apple's retail operations located in the U.S., that leaves Apple with a tremendous retail opportunity abroad. Brazil in particular appears to be a strategic location, and Quartz on Monday explained why Apple expanding into the land where the "lungs of the earth" reside is a really big deal.
The move into Brazil is a big deal. Smartphone sales, for one, have been booming in the region-sales jumped by 53% in the first quarter of 2013 alone, and grew more than in any other region in the second quarter-and Brazil, Latin America's largest economy, has a lot to do with it. Customers in the country are so enamored with iPhones that many are willing to pay upwards of $1,000 for Apple's new 5c, which retails for about $550 in the US. Furthermore, Latin America is quickly becoming a digital-age goldmine. Internet penetration currently hovers around 45% in the region, and more than 250 million people are now connected to the internet. Very soon, Latin America will have more internet users than the US and Canada.
Looking ahead, Apple indicated during its earnings conference call on Monday that it plans to build over 30 new retail stores over the next 12 months. Tellingly, 20 of those will be located outside of the U.S. In many ways, Apple's international retail expansion is just getting underway.