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.
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
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 iPhone. After 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?