Smartphone sales are exploding in emerging markets like China and India. Apple has been trying to take advantage of that for years, and it insists it is succeeding. But in reality, other manufacturers are dominating the premium smartphone segment.
According to the latest data, OnePlus handsets accounted for 57 percent of all premium handsets sold in India during the second quarter of 2017.
Smartphone sales in India grew a whopping 15 percent during the first quarter of this year, reaching 29 million units. It is estimated that by 2021, annual sales will reach 231.5 million units, up from just 102.4 million in 2016. Sales in the U.S., on the other hand, are expected to shrink.
It’s no surprise, then, that Apple wants a piece of this pie. It has been aggressively pushing the iPhone in India, and has even begun locally manufacturing certain handsets. But for the vast majority of smartphone consumers, the iconic device is just too expensive.
That’s true even in the premium smartphone segment, which comprises devices priced at $400+.
OnePlus dominates Apple and Samsung
The latest figures from IDC reveal that handsets from OnePlus have been much more successful. The OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 5 accounted for 57 percent of all premium smartphones sold online last quarter. That’s significantly more than Apple or Samsung could achieve.
Amazon.in saw sales of OnePlus devices treble during Diwali, India’s biggest national festival. The OnePlus 5 was also its best-selling smartphone during the most recent Amazon Prime Day.
“Due to the triumph of the OnePlus 5, 2017 will ensure OnePlus end the year in a healthy position,” the Chinese startup says.
Apple must alter its approach
This proves, once again, that Apple must alter its approach in emerging markets. The iPhone might be just as appealing in these countries as it is anywhere else, but its hefty price tag makes it an impossible purchase for the vast majority.
Manufacturing handsets locally could lower prices in the end, but consumers in India are yet to see any significant reductions. Apple won’t make a really significant dent until that changes.