Flipkart, Amazon help Apple double its revenue in India

People queue up to buy the latest iPhone X in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, on Friday. Photo: Dalip Kumar
Apple's revenue from India doubled, year-on-year, in the September quarter, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said on Friday. Analysts attributed the rise to higher sales of the iPhone on e-commerce platforms such as Flipkart, Amazon and Paytm.

“Revenue from emerging markets outside greater China was up 40 per cent, with great momentum in India, where revenue doubled, year-over-year,” Cook said during a call with analysts. He did not divulge the revenue figures for India.

He also said that sales of iPad tablets and Mac computers by enterprise and educational customers in India grew in double digits, while iPad sales, on the whole, were up by 39 per cent. The iPhone continues to dominate in terms of Indian earnings, but increasing sales of other devices point to a trickle effect where customers buy into the Apple ecosystem.

“It has been a record third quarter for Apple in India. Usually, the quarter’s sales are slower due to the cyclic and seasonal changes, but in this quarter the mix of older generation iPhone sales increased, triggered by deals on online channels,” said Tarun Pathak, associate director at Counterpoint Research.

During the festive sales, Apple’s iPhone SE, which retails for Rs 26,000, was available at a 40 per cent discount on Amazon at Rs 17,999. The MacBook Air, which retails for Rs 77,200, was available for Rs 44,000 on Tata Cliq, while the iPad, which sells for Rs 28,000, was available on Flipkart for Rs 20,000.

India is the second-largest smartphone market in the world and is dominated by phones running on Google’s Android operating system. Out of the 110 million-odd smartphones that ship in country every year, it is estimated that Apple controls just a 3 per cent share.

Despite the extremely positive outlook on India, Cook agreed that Apple was still a sliver of India’s smartphone market when questioned by an analyst on what it would take for Apple to be even more successful in India.

“It is building stores. It is building channels. It is building markets. It is building the developer ecosystem. It is having the right product line-up for the market. And I feel like we are making good progress there and are gaining understanding of the market, but we still have a long way to go, which I sort of see as an opportunity instead of a problem,” he said.

A first step to that commitment to India came with Apple setting up a manufacturing plant in Bengaluru earlier this year. In the three months that ended September, Cook reported that majority of iPhone SEs sold in India were manufactured at its local plant and he was hopeful that the move would help it save money in the long term through the avoidance of compounding taxes.

Another glimmer of hope for Cook in India has been better network connectivity. He reported that the way Reliance Jio and Airtel were investing in their networks, cell service in India was materially better than it was 12 months ago, acknowledging that the change had been come about in a very short period.

Globally, Apple beat estimates on higher sales of its premium iPhoneX to record $52.6 billion during the quarter. International sales accounted for 62 per cent of the quarter’s revenue, indicating that China and other markets are growing faster than Apple’s home market US. The firm also saw its best ever quarter for services at $8.5 billion.

"The iPhone X orders are very strong for both direct customers and for carriers throughout the world," Cook said.