Why iPhone is losing the race and Apple needs to rethink its India strategy

Apple iPhone X
With Apple shipping less than 1 million iPhones in the first half of 2018, which is fewer than 2 per cent of the estimated 60 million smartphones that were shipped in India during the same period, Apple seems to be struggling to compete with its rivals in the country, reports The Verge.

According to the report, Apple's rival Samsung shipped 17.4 million while Xiaomi shipped 19 million smartphones to India in the same time period.

The Verge reports that this slump in iPhone sales comes after a steady growth in the numbers for the company during 2016 and 2017 when it shipped 2.6 million and 3.2 million units. The report says that iPhones smartphone market share has dropped to 1 per cent, which is its lowest in recent history, as of April-June quarter.

Devices priced in the top slots (Apple's iPhone X 256GB is priced at over Rs 100,000) in a price sensitive market like India has been a reason for Apple's struggle in India, The Verge report says.

Apple's most popular devices in India are iPhone SE and iPhone 6 which were launched two and four years ago. With available discounts, both the iPhone SE and iPhone 6 fall in the bracket of Rs 20,000 - Rs 30,000 which makes them more accessible to the Indian audience and hence the popularity.

Another problem for the smartphone giant has been the increased import duties by the Indian government to give a boost to its 'Make in India' campaign. The report suggests that out of the total number of smartphones sold in India in the January-March quarter, 96 per cent were manufactured in India itself. This places Apple in the back seat as most of its iPhones are still imported.

Other factors that the report identifies as hurdles for Apple in India are the lack of dual-sim feature and non-availability of the option to expand phone storage, features which the Indian audience really values.

As Indians have a tendency to scan and compare specifications of multiple smartphones before choosing one, iPhone's tend to get dwarfed in front of devices with say 8GB of RAM priced at half the price of an iPhone which has a 3GB RAM. Apple's softwares like Maps and assistant Siri don't work as good in India when compared to its Android counterparts.

Problems are plenty for Apple in India at present. It may not hit the 10 million sales mark which it aspires to achieve anytime soon unless it comes up with a smartphone priced at much lower than its current smartphones. What it can do, however, is to manufacture more of its devices in India to release itself from the pressure of competition for the time being.

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