Apple stops selling cheaper iPhones in India

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iPhone 6s made in India
Apple is changing up its strategy in India.
Photo: Apple

Apple has stopped selling its cheaper iPhones in India, driving up the price of an “entry-level” iPhone in the process.

A new report notes that Apple has stopped selling the iPhone SE, iPhone 6, 6 Plus and 6s Plus. This is part of a change of strategy on Apple’s part.

A report from the Economic Daily Times cites “three senior industry executives.” They say that Apple stopped supplying the handsets last month. Apple’s distributors and sales team reportedly told traders that the new entry model will be the iPhone 6s.

This will increase the price of the cheapest iPhone in India by almost Rs 8,000 ($117). That’s in a country where the median annual income per capita is $616. (Confusingly, today’s report says that the larger 6s Plus is one of the handsets on the chopping block. If this turns out to be true, anyone wanting a larger iPhone would have to opt for the iPhone 7.)

Suppliers will continue selling the iPhone SE, iPhone 6, 6 Plus and 6s Plus — but only until existing supplies have been used up.

The handsets will continue selling in other parts of the world.

A change in Apple’s strategy

This marks a big change in Apple’s India strategy. India is an enormous potential market Apple has been fixated on. However, it’s not been able to turn this into sales. Although Indian customers bought 140 million+ smartphones in India last year, just 1.7 million of them were iPhones.

To try and turn things around, Apple previously slashed prices of iPhones locally. It also started building “Made in India” iPhones to appeal to local customers.

Things are taking a drastic turn, however. Last summer, Apple parted ways with three members of its executive team in India. It also hired the former Chief Customer Operations Officer at Nokia Networks to head up its India operations department.

According to today’s report, Apple’s new strategy focuses on “driving value in India instead of chasing volumes.”  The decision was taken after Apple improved its revenue in profit in India in 2018-19. That was despite iPhone volumes taking a hit during that same period.

“Cupertino does not want Apple India to chase volumes by discounting at the cost of profit,” said one Apple trade partner. “These models which are being phased out will increase the average selling price of iPhones in India and boost both profit and revenue.”

Apple previously assembled iPhone SE, 6s and 7 models in India. That “idle capacity” will now be used to produce other models. A separate report recently claimed Apple will start diverting some of its “Made in India” iPhones to Europe.