Apple sliding down the pecking order in India as Chinese brands conquer the subcontinent

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Apple in India is slowly and steadily losing its market. It has had a tough 2018 as it saw all its competitors win and all it could do was just watch. Apple sees India as one of the biggest markets globally and is very important to them. The first ever iPhone was launched in 2007 but it was never officially launched in the subcontinent. The first iPhone to have officially launched in India was iPhone 3G which saw the light in India in August of 2008.

Since then it has kind of become the cult smartphone in India. The consumers in India, especially the loyalists have helped Apple keep their company’s stature in India. It has managed to keep their hold since the last decade but 2018 was truly disastrous for Apple.

The main reason was the price hike in their devices. According to a Market Trends Research Foundations’ (MTRF) survey, the Indian consumers have a knack of picking up devices which are pocket-friendly. The price sensitive India consumers were not as dazzled by Apple because of their $1000 price tag in India. Even the loyalists turned their back on Apple and the numbers are proof of it.

Apple’s market has crashed in India. In 2016, it had around 2.8 million shipments in India, its market share was around 2.30% and that was a stable market. Apple never had a huge market share in India it always had those many loyal fans, and this was always the case with Apple all over the world. In 2017, it had around 3.2 million shipments with 2.40% market share but this is where it all went wrong. The prices of the phones were on the higher side and right on the edge. Indian consumers bought the iPhone 8 and 8 plus but had to pay a lot of money. In 2018, iPhone X was launched with a price tag of $1000. The total number of shipments in 2018 was around 1.6-1.7 million, the market share almost dropped two-fold as it was around 1.20%. The decline was unreal and it was bound to happen. (The above numbers are a product of the research conducted by Counterpoint Research).

Apple’s market in China has seen a similar story and the reason is its lack of innovation and the price tag. The iPhones will not get 5G until 2020 and then there are android devices with that technology in the market. This is the reason why people are shifting to Android. OnePlus has eaten up a lot of market in India, in fact, the Chinese companies shares more than 50% market in India and the reason for it is innovations coupled with an aggressive price tag.

A few years ago Apple’s business jumped from $200 million to almost $2 billion dollars in India. After that, there came the stagnation and then came the decline. The reason is, the Android phone’s market in India is on an all-time high because of innovations and the price being around 40% less than Apple. Apple lacks the two things Chinese brands are offering and those are the things that people look at. Smartphones are a commodity now and it is only factually right Apple is losing its market share and also its hold in India. It only shipped 400,000 units in the fourth quarter of 2018 while OnePlus shipped around 500,000 units.

That said, Tim Cook while talking to CNBC said that India is still very important to Apple and they are looking to win the market back. Tim Cook said that they will look to assemble the phones in Foxconn Technology Co. plant which is situated in Hyderabad, India. This will help cut the prices of its top-end smartphones in India. However, it will not affect the prices much because OnePlus has already done it and people in India are more than happy with OnePlus as of now according to Counterpoint.

– Unmesh Phule

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