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Apple re-enters list of top 10 smartphone brands

November 01, 2019 19:54 IST

From new and competitively-priced iPhones to slashing prices of its older models, it had a multi-pronged strategy.

After two years of downbeat news, Apple, the premium consumer electronics giant, managed to turn around its business in India.

The management of the US-based entity informed its investors on Thursday that it registered record sales in this country during the July-September quarter.


Luca Maestri, senior vice-president and chief financial officer at Apple Inc, said in a post-results conference call that they had “established new Q4 (July-September) records in many major developed and emerging markets” including India, America, Canada, Germany, France, Korea, Singapore, Brazil, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. As a result, its gross margin expanded 40 basis points, to 38 per cent.

Maestri added the company’s laptop and desktop business had record sales in India.

“Despite the tough compare, we generate an all-time revenue record for Mac in the US and in India.”

The maker of popular smart technology products like the iPhone and MacBook has faced stiff competition here, the world’s second-largest smartphone market.

After shipping in 3.2 million units in 2017, the India unit of Apple sold only 1.7 million units of iPhones in 2018.

More, in October-December 2018, it failed to capture top spot in the premium smartphone market, after years.

It fell behind OnePlus (36 per cent market share), with 30 per cent share.

In April-June 2019, its share in the above Rs 30,000 price segment fell further - to 21 per cent - and slipped to third spot, behind OnePlus and Samsung.

The firm, however, left no stone unturned to regain top spot this festive season.

From new and competitively-priced iPhones to slashing prices of its older models, it had a multi-pronged strategy.

The entry-level new iPhone model - iPhone 11 - was priced Rs 64,900, or 15.6 per cent less than the XR variant of 2018.

The model is priced even lower than the iPhone X, launched at Rs 70,990 only two years ago.

Also, to capture the country’s shopping mood ahead of the festive season, the new iPhones were made available from September 27 in India, three days ahead of its global launch.

According to Navkendar Singh, research director at IDC, the launch date could have been advanced to align it with the upcoming Big Billion Days sale by Flipkart (starting September 29) and similar shopping events that were expected to kick off by the last week of that month.

Counterpoint Research estimates that efforts taken from April onward helped Apple make an entry into the top 10 smartphone brands in July-September after several quarters.

Primarily, price cuts on the iPhone XR, along with good channel demand for its new iPhone 11, played a key role.

More, the iPhone XR - base model from last year’s launch - became a top-selling model for the brand after Apple cut its price and offered a cashback scheme this April.

During the April-June quarter, 48 out of 100 iPhones sold in India were of the iPhone XR.

The firm had reduced the effective price  to Rs 53,900, from Rs 76,900 in early April. Karn Chauhan, research analyst at Counterpoint, had said the drastic drop in prices of older iPhones could give Apple an edge over competitors like OnePlus.

It remains to be seen how much of these efforts reflect in yearly sales.

Apple India had a 19 per cent drop in yearly revenue for 2018-19, the first such since it set up shop here, and has also faced challenges in maintaining profitability.

Net profit plunged 71 per cent to Rs 262 crore last year, from Rs 896 crore in 2017-18.

Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

Arnab Dutta in New Delhi
Source: source image