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Apple progresses in India's smartphone market

By Arnab Dutta
September 17, 2015 12:15 IST
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While Apple has been present in India for some time, it has gained traction in the smartphone market here (its third largest in the world) since 2011-12, after Tim Cook took charge.

Though revenue from the country forms less than one per cent of its $183-billion global revenue, India is poised to become a key market for the firm.

And, with reports of Cook meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, later this month in the US, speculations are rife that Cook may try and figure out a plan for Apple's future growth and increasing presence in India.

Over the years, Apple's interest in the Indian smartphone market has increased. Experts point to the narrowing gap between its launches in the US and Indian markets.

Apple launched the iPhone 4 in India after 337 days of its US launch. For iPhone 4S, this went down to 164 days; that for the 5S & 5C to 42 days.

"Product launches in India were planned much later than their release in Apple's key markets...

This gap reduced with the release of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are expected to debut here by mid-October, soon after the launch elsewhere," Neha Dharia, senior analyst (consumer services), Ovum said.

This means the new variant will be made available within 36 days of its launch in the US. According to sectoral sources, Apple, to keep competitors at bay, will keep the price of its new iPhone 6S close to the launch price of the previous variant, in the country.

"And to keep up with the changing trend, Apple is coming up with devices with larger screens," Faisal Khawoosa, lead analyst, telecom, CyberMedia Research, said.

Apple progresses in India's smartphone market Between July 2014 and June 2015, Apple sold 1.55 million iPhones and 272,500 tablets in India.

In the first half of 2015, as many as 866,183 iPhones were shipped in the country, 53 per cent higher than in the same period last year.

Estimated revenue in 2014-15 grew 40 per cent to Rs 6,300 crore from Rs 4,500 crore in 2013-14.

"The large untapped user base in India and China provides Apple with plenty of opportunity for growth. Apple aims to double the sale of iPhones in India to two million by the end of 2015-16," Inderpreet Kaur, analyst, Asia Pacific, Ovum, said.

While, Apple had earlier asked the Indian government to dilute provisions of local sourcing for foreign direct investment in single-brand retail that would help it open its own stores in India.

Cook’s interaction with Modi would centre around how it can open more stores without complying with the local sourcing rules as the country does not have a base to make components for iPhones.

Sources say Apple is currently looking for a professional who can advise the company in dealing with the government.

(With inputs from Raghu Kishnan, Bengaluru)

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Arnab Dutta