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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Why Apple may have reasons to be cautiously optimistic in India

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In a year where life — and plans — have been disrupted like never before, Apple has had a rather unusually busy year. More so, 2020 could very well be the year when Apple took rather big strides in its India story. From March to October, Apple has launched a slew of new products across its range. Be it Watch, iPad, MacBook, HomePod, and finally the iPhones — Apple has launched a new product in each of those categories. In India, it also opened its Online Store to allow it to reach out to more consumers.
A report by Canalys suggests that Apple recorded double-digit growth as far as iPhones are concerned. The report pegs Apple to have sold nearly 800,000 units of the iPhones in Q3 of 202o. “Apple is finally paying attention to India,” said Canalys Research Director, Rushabh Doshi. “It has opened a direct online store, giving it several new angles in its go-to-market strategy, such as utilising device trade-ins to provide purchase incentives, or bundling AirPods with iPhones to make them more appealing.”

The impact of the direct online store wouldn’t have been felt in Q3 2020 as Apple opened the store on September 23. It’s too early to gauge how well or how big an impact the online store has in India. Though early signs suggest that it could work very well. The first online offer — bundling of free AirPods on purchase of iPhone 11 — was allegedly sold out within hours of offering.
The key for Apple’s growth in India could very well be directly linked to how the iPhones sell. Other markets may have embraced other Apple devices but India perhaps remains an iPhone-centric region. For that Apple has now an offering in almost every price bracket above Rs 40,000, which gives the Cupertino-based company a shot at every kind of buyer looking for a premium smartphone.

Though it has to be said that the iPhone 12 series — especially the Pro devices — could prove a rather hard sell in the country. As Doshi of Canalys puts it, “The new iPhone 12 family will be a tough sell in India this year, as network operators do not yet have the infrastructure for mass market 5G deployment, erasing a key feature of the devices.” It’s not just 5G but the pricing of the iPhone 12 Pro is highly prohibitive. Starting at Rs 1.19 lakh, the iPhone 12 Pro series is the most expensive iPhone launched in India and one of the most expensive smartphones available. Doshi says that not just 5G but “Apple’s pricing strategy for its new iPhones in India needs serious consideration.”
Beyond the iPhone 12, Apple has a lot of reasons to be cautiously optimistic about its India story. The launch of online store, the MacBook and iPad could also help it look beyond the iPhone. More importantly, it’s the pricing ‘older’ models — iPhone 11 and iPhone XR — alongside the new iPhone SE that could make the iPhone reach into more Indians’ pockets than ever before.

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