Is Apple Clearly Losing Out In The Indian Market?

by Sohini Bagchi    Aug 08, 2016


No matter how big Apple is betting on the Indian market, it is clearly losing out in the Android-dominated country. Studies have shown Apple’s smartphone market share in India has halved from 4 per cent to just 2 per cent in the last one year. A new report by Strategy Analytics reveals that Apple shipped only 0.8 million iPhones in India in Q2 2016, and contributed only 2.5 per cent of total smartphones shipments in India in Q2 2016. 

Struggling in an Android-dominated market

With strong smartphone shipments in Q2 2016, India is currently the third largest smartphone market behind China and the US. According to the research firm, the smartphone shipments in India grew 19 per cent annually, to reach 31 million units during second quarter of 2016.

Android maintained its dominance in the Indian smartphone market with a record 97 per cent OS market share. It is still the preferred choice of mobile operating system in India. Android OEMs collectively shipped 29.8 million smartphones in Q2 2016, with a market share of 97 per cent.

While Android is growing exponentially in the Indian market, Apple’s iOS took a beating with an annual decline of 35 per cent. “Android dominates the India smartphone market and looks unbeatable right now, due to its deep portfolio of hardware partners, extensive distribution channels, and a wide range of low-cost apps like Gmail,” said Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics in a statement.

India Smartphone OS Shipments and Market share in Q2 2016  


Cook and India factor

While however, in his recent visit to India, Apple CEO Tim Cook discussed various new growth opportunities for Apple in the country. His visit in May almost cooincided with results of Apple’s first ever decline in iPhone sale and drop in revenue in Q2 of 2016 globally - a resaon, analysts cited, India could now emerge as the new hope for the company. 

Moreover, after reaching at a point of saturation in China, it was clear that Apple is now looking to develop India as a market. Counterpoint Research said iPhone sales in the January-March period in India hit a record 630,000 units and the market tracker now forecasts they will rise to 3 million in the calendar year, compared with just over 2 million in 2015. 

Also Read: Is India Apple’s Next Growth Market After China?

The Smartphone maker is optimistic about the 4G rollout and its potential in the coming months. With telcos such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio Infocomm are extending 4G networks across the country, the company expects that better network and broadband will spur the growth of iPhones.

Challenges remain

However, problems continue to grip Apple. Stiff competition among the domestic and global smartphone makers and high segmentation of the smartphone market are the key obstacles in Apple’s growth.

In April, Apple’s proposal to import and sell refurbished iPhones in the country also disappointed the government that immediately rejected its proposal. Competitors launched campaigns to protest such a move as they said this would defeat the ‘Make in India’ initiative and would also trigger the market for used electronics good.

Still betting big…

Nonetheless, the tech giant is “looking forward” to setting up retail stores in India to tap into the booming smartphone market in India. At the Q2 investors call, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced company’s plan to bring retail stores to India but ruled out plans of local manufacturing. Cook mentioned during his visit that Apple has plans to open up Apple Retail Stores in India and is searching the real-estate markets for a while in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

More recently, Apple has launched a center to support Indian developers creating applications for its iOS operating system and has opened an office in Hyderabad to boost its map development effort. The iPhone 7 launch that’s around the corner may also bring some positive news for Apple.

However, pricing still remains a key concern for Apple. Woody Oh, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “Apple iOS will need to reduce iPhone pricing to cheaper levels, attract more operator subsidies and enlarge its retail presence through Apple stores or online channels if it wants to regrow significantly in the future.”

It would therefore be interesting to see how Apple frames its business strategies for the price-conscious, Android-dominated market, and whether it will be successful in the. If not, it may have to accept defeat, just like its several other global markets, where Apple could not make it big.