Apple’s smart moves start to pay off in India

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iPhone XS in India
Apple is working to lower hefty iPhone prices in India, which are sometimes higher than US prices.
Photo: Apple

Apple has a slender percentage of Indian handset sales, but there’s cause for optimism. We spoke with Anshika Jain, an analyst at Counterpoint Research, to see whether the changes Apple has been making to its business practices in India started to bear fruit during the second quarter of this year, and what they might mean for the future.

Apple not a big player in India

There were 37 million phones sold in this country in the April-June period, according to Counterpoint. Not very many of them were iPhones, but sales were nevertheless up.

“Apple has 1% share of India smartphone market in Q2 2019 with 22% YoY growth,” Jain told Cult of Mac. “The YoY growth is driven by price cuts and extension of channel partnerships.”

It seems most Indian buyers prefer handsets made by Asian-based rivals to Apple’s offerings. “Currently, it is facing tough competition from OnePlus and Samsung in the premium segment in India,” according to Jain.

Apple changing its India strategy

One of the Apple’s challenges is that most handsets sold in India cost between INR 10,000 and INR 20,000 ($145 to $290). An iPhone XS Max sells for over INR 100,000. That’s even more than it costs in the US because the Indian government adds on hefty tariffs.

To avoid those tariffs, more iPhones will be made in India, including top-tier models. “Apple is focusing on local manufacturing which will be a key strategy for the brand to register positive growth this year as it will help to reduce the iPhone prices,” the Counterpoint analyst told us. “Apple is also looking to make this country as its manufacturing hub by exporting the devices to European markets.”

The move to increase production in India, including exporting to Europe, is part of Apple’s plan to lower its dependence in China as the trade war between it and the US grows.