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Why iPhone Sales is so Poor in India : Eye Opening Reasons

Why iPhone Sales is so Poor in India : Eye Opening Reasons

Steve Jobs would have been very disappointed by the stats of iPhone sales in India; luckily he is not there (died in October 2011 due to pancreatic cancer) to see a dismal performance of worlds of the best mobile phone brand.  The brand Apple surpassed Coca-Cola in October 2013 to become most valuable brand of the world, however, Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook still be having nightmares, when it comes to poor sales of iPhone in India.

poor iphone sales in india

A country of more than 1.2 billion population, where other mobile phone manufacturers and network service providers are grooming like mushroom, Apple doesn’t seems to be making any remarkable progress. India is achieving above 70% tele-density every year, then why iPhone is not able to make an impact.

Let’s take a look into sales stats of iPhone in India from two back to back financial quarters.   In the last quarter of 2012, Apple sold 2, 30,000 iPhones in India, which reduced to almost half (1, 20,000) in the first quarter of 2013 and which become a big concern for company’s sales staff.  This poor performance also disturbed share value of Apple in India that dropped to 2.1% from 4.7%.

It is not possible to chalk out exactly what let iPhones down in India, however, I can conclude some assumptions based on the facts received from media sources.  I am giving a record of facts, which may have cost Apple big time or probably they have missed the plot to recognize them.

Record of Facts for Poor iPhone Sales in India

india iPhone Sales

1. Too costly for Indian Market

Prices of new variants of iPhone devices are quite high due to low subsidy admissible to Indian consumers.  The price difference in the lowest model marketed in India with comparison to US market is around 7-8k, which keeps widening with high end products.  iPhone 5C is available at a price of INR 41,900 in India, which a US customer is getting for $ 549 (approx INR 34,700).  This prices difference is certainly a big concern for consumers of an emerging market like India.

2. Poor retailing arrangements

Presently, Apple haven’t thought of establishing a brand sales store for the Indian customers, which means, retailing of iPhone in India is still in the hands of selected retail units.  Limited retail options in a huge country like India surely is an issue, as any consumer have to make special arrangements to get an iPhone, instead of easily getting it at a reachable store.

3. Unaggressive marketing strategies

I don’t know why, but I feel like Apple is not making aggressive enough marketing moves to reach out to maximum consumers in India.  Other biggest competitors of Apple are certainly having an upper hand here.  For example, marketing strategies of Nokia and Samsung in India is very aggressive.  You will find ads of Nokia and Samsung on billboards, posters, television and other sources of mass advertising.  However, I have noticed that except television ads Apple doesn’t employ any other mode of advertising. Few days back I saw a full page ads of iphone in a national newspaper but that wasn’t enough.

4. Limited variants of iPhone available

iPhone surely have always looked for excellence and therefore, take time to launch their next edition after launching one.  Apart from that, earlier there were only two service providers in Airtel and Vodafone who were selling iPhoneAfter launch of iPhone 5 series, only Reliance Telecommunications holds the right to market and sell it in Indian market.  Though, a consumer can opt for an unlocked version of iPhone but have to compromise on certain features which is not available with unlocked handsets of iPhone.  In a country like India it is really hard to convince consumers to switch their network service provider.

5. Inadequate network coverage

When iPhone was launched in India, 3G service was not even started, and state of GPRS and EDGE technology was up to the mark.  Even today you will get good 3G network in some metro cities only and as you move away from there, it is likely to get worse.  So, only option to get best features, services and use of an iPhone is staying within a Wi-Fi connection, and that is not possible all the time.  Considering the amount a customer is spending for purchasing iPhone accompanied with the poor network infrastructure is also a factor, which affected sales of iPhone in India.

There are some of the reasons which I can outline for poor iPhone sales in Indian market. Apple do understand and realize the smartphone penetration in countries like China and India, and that’s why they are coming up with new strategies to capture the market. According to recent news, Apple is going to reintroduce iPhone4 in India and base model (8Gb) will be priced at INR 22,900. This indeed will help Apple to target consumer looking for competitive price option for iPhone in India.

As an iPhone user, I love the phone for usability and performance. Somehow Android powered phones never appealed me like iOS did. Anyways, this is my personal perception but Apple really need to work hard to stand out in countries like India.

Do you own an iPhone or planning to buy one? What according to you Apple can do to improve iPhone sales in India?

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Article by Harsh Agrawal

Harsh has written 1069 articles.

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{ 22 comments… add one }

  • vinesh

    iphone is basically costly when compared to samsung in india. but quality wise iphone stands for long time but samsung has become bad ( got personal experience). on the other hand apps in iphone will be really good and addictive but designed for usa.

  • Sri Varshan

    Harsh, i would say that the primary reason behind this fall is basically because of the “Rise of the Android” ;-) . IPhone has been a dream for everybody when I was studying back in my college days but today there are smarter phones in the market at a more reasonable price.
    Unless IPhone reduces its price I don’t think there is a chance for its sales to skyrocket in India which obviously I think will never happen. With all said there is always a craze over brands and I think that will keep Apple going forward :-)

  • AweSci

    I agree. Very nicely put. In fact the first reason is so true, and I hate Apple for doing nothing about it.
    Another thing about iOS, as some people above pointed, is that it is annoying in the sense that in it, there is not much you can tinker with…It is like Apple has set a frame for you and you can’t go beyond it.
    But the very “frame” they set makes it a very robust device. Buy once, and unlike most other smartphones, you can rest assured that an iPhone will las so much long (given you are able to live with the same phone for 5 years).

  • Varun

    In the end you said that “Somehow Android powered phones never appealed me like iOS did”.
    You should take a Android challenge and use a nexus 5 or a Note 3 or any other high end Android phone for a month by completely ditching your iPhone 5. :)
    and then share your views about the results! :)

    • Harsh Agrawal

      Thanks for your suggestion and I will surely take this test and will share my experience.

  • Krishna Raghunathan

    Hi Harsh,

    Agree with the fact that Apple iPhone has high cost, in fact, all Apple products are quite heavy on the pocket and in case there is any problem, one needs to shell out huge amounts of money to get it fixed. Additionally, not sure how far this is true, however, I feel we in India are huge fans of good camera phones. While checking out a smart phone, we also like to see how good the camera is, and, Apple, though provides a decent one, it’s nothing comparable to the what Android phones and Windows phones have to offer. Hence, there it’s a big let down!

    Screen size is another thing that seems to attract people, I could go on, but apart, from the facts that you’ve listed down, I guess these play a major role as well. It’s definitely not worth the cost and this seems to be a common consensus.

  • gopi krishna

    actually speaking the iphone is designed for usa lifestyle and the cost is so high only american s can afford to buy costly mobile

    • Harsh Agrawal

      I disagree with that, as iPhone is quite popular among young guns in India too. The only problem is affordability and only certain demographic of people in India can afford to have an iPhone at this moment. I’m sure with their changing pace of aggressive marketing ( also iPhone4 for lower price), should help them to grow their market share in our country.

  • Krishna Moorthy.D

    Harsh, You could have made this post in ,Anyway it’s a real IPhone fact. :D

    • Harsh Agrawal

      Here is interesting bit for you: This post was written almost 2 years back and most of the fact was outdated. So I have re-written the post and re-published it. Otherwise it’s surely best fit for

  • Nishant

    Nice Post, Harsh ! According to me the cost factor is the main reason. Now a days almost all mobile phone manufacturer companies offer great features in the range of 15 to 20k.
    Andriod is another reason. People are getting familiar to it and they don’t feel the need of ios.

  • Vinay kakumani

    Your are absolutely correct..over all apple team doing poor marketing strategy in india…Sumsaung doing the best marketing strategy in india i think so..Apple is Too costly for a upper middle case people in india…then how lower to them other react?

  • Mrityunjay

    well i have used my friends iphone and even i don’t like it at all.
    as it doesn’t supports basic feature like bluetooth sharing, much costly, IOS is not well designed according to graphic appearance for better experience.

  • Nitin Patel

    I have never used an Iphone but my friends who have used Iphones tell me that using Ios is much complicated than android or windows. Few years back, Iphones did not even have bluetooth in their handsets and neither they were able to get connected to any of pc via USBs.
    Maybe that’s one more reason that people are not buying Iphones in India.
    And after all, nokia and samsung phones became popular in India only because of their simplicity of use.

    • Harsh Agrawal

      There are certain things about iPhone is annoying..such as:
      No universal charger..
      NO Bluetooth
      You need iTunes to transfer music or photos. Also the process is not so straight forward…

      Honestly these are bit of turn off for a user who look out for such features, but the apps and quality we get on iPhone, that makes it stand out…

  • ankur agarwal

    One important point is After Sales Service. No company can sell their products without giving effective after sales service. I can’t find service centres of Apple products within easily reachable distances. Giving my own example, I am a graphic designer at Meerut City (app. 70 kms. from Delhi), keen to have a “Mac” for myself but unable to have one because of non availability of service here in my city. If Apple have provided its service centre @ one/city, Macs could be found on every table of a professional graphic designer in every small city. Even my younger brother Shubham Agarwal who is a Music Director/Composer @ Borivali, Mumbai has to go through many problems when his Mac demands any kind of service because service center is too far from his home. Even a big city like Mumbai does not have sufficient number of Apple service centres.
    Though I am talking about computers not mobiles, yet I am not aware of service centres of iPhones either. A person has to go to Delhi and find service centre there to get his Apple Product repaired. Its also a big impact on iPhone sales.

  • Vikas Yadav

    A very poor record of one of the most reputable brand in the world, i.e. Apple. If Steve job is alive today, then this scenario would not happen definitely. If the same trend occuring, then apple might lost it’s value in the rest part of the world. But thanks a lot@Harsh for sharing this wonderful articles with us.

  • Ngan Tengyuen

    maybe the Indian market is to lucrative enough in term of margin. we can see that they are putting effort in penetrating China. The PPP is very important, People’s Purchasing Power, something Indian is lacking behind.

    After all, Apple is about premium, not about making money and dominating a market. If that was their goal, they would have conquered the entire smartphone market when they launched the iPhone in 2007 by opening it up to 3rd party manufacturer.

  • Amey

    Agree with all of your points!!! Especially cost and marketing efforts that apple has to take. I think If apple reduces the cost and make it equal to the local brands (cost-wise only!!! :) ) Then the sales will touch the sky!!! That will only happens if apple goes to worst state because apple is apple hence its apple. Micromax is ‘micro’ max hence its micromax and Samsung is Samsung hence its Samsung…

    • Zuber

      @Amey agree mate because Apple is different that’s why it is apple!

  • Adithya Shetty

    Hi Harsh,
    Agree with all your points! And yes, unaggressive marketing is one of the cause I think; we barely see any iPhone ads on billboards! Samsung is doing pretty good job here!

  • Senthil Ramesh

    Your right. Poor Providers are the important reason. Also the facilities like Wifi are not so available in India. That makes the people not to prefer it. Also the less awareness among the people, is another reason. They prefer mobile phones like Korean and Chinese makes.


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