Apple’s iPhone sales in India had their best quarter ever, indicating that the Cupertino, California-based corporation is finally making headway in the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market.
According to data from market research firm Counterpoint, sales grew by 34% year over year to 2.3 million devices in the fourth quarter. Xiaomi of China and Samsung of South Korea sold the most smartphones in the quarter, with 9.3 million and 7.2 million devices sold, respectively.
According to Counterpoint’s estimations, Apple appears to have made more money than any of its competitors due to the high cost of the iPhone device. For the quarter, the US corporation brought in an estimated $2.09 billion (approximately Rs. 15,651 crore), edging out Samsung, which brought in nearly $2 billion (roughly Rs. 14,976 crore).
“It’s a watershed moment for Apple in India,” said Neil Shah, a Mumbai-based Counterpoint Technology Market Research partner and research head. “During the pandemic, Indians were willing to spend a lot of money on luxury phones since their life revolved around their phones and there was nothing else to spend money on.”
While Apple’s iPhone has helped it become the most valuable corporation in the world, it has failed in India’s 1.3 billion-person market. Many local consumers cannot afford expensive iPhone handsets, which is exacerbated by the high import duties Apple must pay on devices built outside the country.
Multiple top-level executive exits in the country, sagging sales, and enraged retail partners protesting the company’s online discounting practises hampered the company in 2018. Apple sold 1.8 million iPhones in the full year, down from 1.9 million in the previous quarter.
However, the IT behemoth has reversed its strategy since then. It has launched its own web store in India, streamlined discounts, and begun local iPhone manufacture. In the coming quarters, it plans to open company-owned retail shops in a number of locations.
The phone maker priced its basic iPhone 12 model at less than Rs. 50,000 during the recent festival purchasing and gifting season in India, offering cashback incentives and flexible payment plans.
According to World Bank data, Apple is still a tough sell in a country where per-capita income was less than $2,000 (approximately Rs. 1.49 lakh) in 2020. According to Counterpoint, the average iPhone selling price in the country was $908 (approximately Rs. 68,000) in the most recent quarter, while Samsung’s was $278 (about Rs. 20,800) and Xiaomi’s was $172 (roughly Rs. 12,900).
Despite the fact that Apple’s market share has increased, it is still in the single digits, at slightly over 5% for the quarter. During this time, Indians purchased 44 million smartphones.
It faces obstacles in the market that go beyond price. Foxconn and Wistron, Apple’s manufacturing partners, have received backlash in India due to their treatment of workers. Following concerns about food safety and housing standards, the US corporation took the rare step of placing a Foxconn factory near the southern Indian city of Chennai on probation.
In addition, the Competition Commission of India, the country’s antitrust regulator, has launched an investigation into app store fees.