Apple Inc. had its best quarter for iPhone sales in India yet, a sign that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is finally making headway in the world’s fastest growing smartphone market.
Sales rose to 2.3 million units in the fourth quarter, up 34% from a year earlier, according to figures from market research firm Counterpoint. Chinese Xiaomi Corp. and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. sold 9.3 million and 7.2 million smartphones respectively in the quarter, leading in terms of units.
Apple appears to have generated more revenue than any of its rivals, however, due to the iPhone’s high price, according to Counterpoint calculations. The US company took in about $2.09 billion for the quarter, edging out Samsung with revenue of about $2 billion.
“This is a turning point for Apple in India,” said Neil Shah, Mumbai-based partner and head of research at Counterpoint Technology Market Research. “Indians were ready to lavish money on high-end phones during the pandemic because everyone’s life revolved around their devices and there was nothing else to spend.”
While Apple has become the world’s most valuable company thanks to the popularity of its iPhone, it has struggled in the Indian market of 1.3 billion people. Expensive iPhones are well beyond the reach of many local consumers, a situation made worse by the high tariffs Apple has had to pay on devices made outside the country.
In 2018, the company stumbled due to several senior executive departures in the country, sending sales plummeting and furious retail partners who protested its online rebate practices. Apple sold 1.8 million iPhones for the full year, down from last quarter.
Since then, however, the tech giant has flip-flopped in its strategy. He opened his own online store in India, streamlined discounts and launched local manufacturing of iPhones. It plans to open company-owned outlets in multiple cities in the coming quarters.
During the recent October-December period, India’s festival shopping and gifting season, the phone maker priced its base iPhone 12 model at less than 50,000 rupees ($668). ), offering repayment incentives and easy payment plans.
Apple is still a tough sell in a country where per capita income was below $2,000 in 2020, according to World Bank data. For the last quarter, the average selling price of the iPhone in the country was $908, while Samsung’s was $278 and Xiaomi’s was $172, according to Counterpoint.
While Apple’s market share has climbed, it remains in the numbers at just over 5% for the quarter. Indians purchased 44 million smartphones during the period.
It has challenges beyond price in the market. Apple’s manufacturing partners Foxconn Technology Group and Wistron Corp. have faced backlash in India over their treatment of workers. The US company has taken the unusual step of placing a Foxconn factory near the southern Indian city of Chennai on probation after protests over food safety and accommodation standards.
Additionally, the country’s antitrust regulator, the Competition Commission of India, has launched an investigation into app store fees.
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