It was not only the poor iPhone sales in China which led Apple to revise its revenue forecast for Q4, 2018. The company also had a poor run in India where it saw iPhone sales decline by a staggering 50 percent in 2018.
While Apple shipped 3.2 million iPhones in India in 2017, it is estimated to have shipped around 1.6-1.7 million units in 2018. The slowdown in iPhone sales was attributed to their insanely high prices and attractive offerings from OnePlus which dominates the premium ($400+) smartphone segment in the country.
Up until 2017, Apple saw its market share increasing in India at a steady pace. In 2017, it had 2.4 percent of the smartphone market in India and shipped 3.2 million iPhones, up from 2.8 million in 2016. In 2018 though, the company is estimated to have shipped around 1.6-1.7 million iPhones and saw its market share decline to 1.2 percent.
The decline brings back iPhone shipments in India to the same level as of 2014 when Apple shipped 1.5 million iPhones. In the same time, smartphone shipments have grown from 80 million to almost 150 million units in the country.
Apple tried to attract customers in India by offering attractive cashback offers, running EMI schemes with 0 percent interest, and more. However, the high price tag of its newer models was simply too much for the Indian consumer.
For comparison, the iPhone XS Max with 64GB of storage is available for around $1,600 in India, while the OnePlus 6T retails for $540. This means that in the price of one iPhone XS Max, one can buy three OnePlus 6Ts! Similarly, even Samsung’s flagship devices are reasonably priced in the country, with the Galaxy Note 9 available for around $850.
Apple has started streamlining its distribution channels in India to ensure strict price control. This has led to ecommerce platforms no longer offering attractive discounts on newer iPhone models like before thereby further hurting iPhone sales in the country.
Given the price-sensitive nature of the Indian smartphone market, Apple needs a device far cheaper than the $1,000 iPhone XR.
The company is reportedly considering assembling high-end iPhones in the country to take advantage of the Make in India program and save on various custom and import duties it currently has to pay. That should lead to a noticeable reduction in iPhone prices in the country, though given the stronghold of OnePlus in the premium smartphone market, that might not just be sufficient.
[Via Economic Times]