Apple may be plotting an agressive course in China, the world’s biggest mobile phone market, by increasing the number of retail stores in the country, but things seem to be falling in place in India, the world’s second largest mobile phone market.
The Economic Times, India’s leading business newspaper reports that the sales of Apple devices, especially the iPhone has gone up by three to four times in the last quarter.
The Economic Times reports:
[Apple] is in the middle of an extensive advertising and marketing campaign for its iPhone, pivoting away from a strategy that relied on tie-ups with mobile operators. This, analysts said, could be the beginning of a sustained effort by Apple, which also makes the iPad tablet, to compete in the top end of the smartphone market.
As we had reported last year, Apple had changed its distribution model in India. Instead of relying on carriers for distribution, Apple is now partnering with specialised distribution companies Ingram Micro and Redington for reaching out to a much larger market. This has helped in making Apple products more easily accessible to a broader base of consumers.
Apple launched the iPhone 5 in India on November 2nd, less than two months of the US release with an expansive distribution network, which along with the full-page advertisements may have also helped.
However, as some analysts have pointed out, Apple will struggle to grab market share in India due to its limited and relatively expensive product range. This may change if Apple launches the low-cost iPhone, which is rumored to be priced at $99 – $149 (though I think the realistic price range for a low-cost iPhone will be $250-$350 as Apple likes to make a profit on its products).
At some point of time, Apple will also have to open retail stores in India, rather than just relying on distributors. Back in 2012, an unnamed official from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) had claimed that Apple has been keen to enter the Indian market, so it is quite possible that the ball is already rolling on that front.
But don’t expect it to happen in 2013 and maybe not even in 2014 as this is what Tim Cook had to say during an analyst call six months back “You know of course I love India, but I believe that Apple has some higher potential in the intermediate term in some other countries. We have a business there, that business is growing, but the sort of the multilayer distribution there really adds to the cost of getting products to market.”