Apple’s new iPhone strategy for world’s second-biggest market

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India iPhone sales
Apple's got renewed focus on India.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple may be kicking all kinds of butt on the global stage, but it’s struggling in India, where the iPhone currently ranks 11th in the overall list of smartphones. To put that in perspective, Apple accounts for just 1 percent of India’s iPhone sales, with fewer than 1 million handsets sold in the first half of this year.

But it’s got a plan (well, several) to change all that.

One of Apple’s big problems in India is pricing. In a country where the national average salary is already a fraction of that in the U.S. (the annual median per capita income in India is just $616), the iPhone is simply too expensive. Things got even worse when new import costs caused Apple to increase the price of the iPhone yet further.

Apple’s new strategy

According to Bloomberg, however, Apple has a new, multi-tiered strategy. In terms of price, Apple won’t commit to slashing its retail prices, but is talking with retailers and banks to persuade them to offer holiday deals all year round.

The company is also placing a renewed emphasis on the retail experience. Without Apple Stores in India, Apple is left having to rely on third party vendors to sell its phones. To help exert more control, Apple is said to be overhauling its in-store branding and product experience. This will include training for retail employees to show customers how to use iPhones, and daily conference calls with Apple executives to gauge progress in stores.

Apple is also going to implement new, stricter targets for stores which stock the iPhone, aiming to sell 40-50 handsets per week. Those which fail to do so could be cut off. Longer term, Apple hopes to open its own Apple Stores in India. These will hopefully be located in New Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai.

Will all of this add up to success for Apple in India? We suspect that the company has an uphill climb to gain momentum in the country. Nonetheless, with the world’s second most populous market there for the taking, it’s understandable why Apple would think it’s worth focusing on.