Why Apple should not get too excited over India

“The time when Apple viewed India as too small and under-developed to bother with is over,” James Crabtree writes for the Financial Times. “Facing worries over a sales slowdown in China, Tim Cook, chief executive, sounded positively bubbly during January’s earnings call as he described the company’s Indian plans as ‘incredibly exciting.'”

“India’s smartphone market is expanding at a cracking pace but with 250m owners out of a 1.2bn population, there is still plenty of room for growth. High-speed 4G mobile internet is gradually arriving. Apple is also preparing to open retail stores in the country,” Crabtree writes. “More important, most Indian smartphone owners still have basic, cheap models, with iPhones making up just a tiny fraction of sales, suggesting many will eventually upgrade.”

“It is tempting, therefore, to see India as Apple’s next big thing. Tempting, but wrong,” Crabtree writes. “Apple must ultimately grapple with a more fundamental dilemma that has vexed western brands from carmaker Volkswagen to retailer Marks and Spencer: its products are more expensive than what most Indian consumers are willing to pay.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote yesterday:

It’ll be good for Apple to control the full retail experience in India. Third party reseller can only offer so much. As always, expect Apple to continue selling premium products at premium prices to premium customers, regardless of the country in which they are operating.

Apple on course for approval to open India retail stores, source says – February 8, 2016
Apple CEO Cook’s focus on India is insanely great – January 27, 2016
Apple seeks to open their first retail stores in India – January 21, 2016


    1. Apple can do much better. $800 devices aren’t competetive in markets like India. If Wall Street is going to punish them for not selling more iPhones, they need to make iPhones more affordable. Where’s the $400 iPhone for emerging markets/post-communist societies? This “premium customers” canard is getting tiresome. People will scrimp and save to get an iPhone, but not when it’s quadruple the price of a reasonable Android phone. I hope the 5se is a step in the right direction.

  1. Im sure Apple is not entering India blindly… As it seems the article implies ..
    Surly they have done their share of due diligence in recognizing what will and wont fly in india.. …way beyond the simplistic assumptions of the author.. “oh ya.. Lots of people there , lets go sell phones .”

  2. Just because Apple has ONLY made premium smartphones does NOT mean that Apple will never make smartphones with a reduced set of features.

    One thing for sure; Apple is not stupid. Apple knows their markets inside out.

    Apple could come out with a “3d World Phone.”

    1. Bo. The braintrust here at MDN has made it clear that all of Apple’s recent decisions are stupid, and that their leadership is misguided, slow, weak, uninspired, incompetent, and deviant. They made their case so forcefully that I am compelled to believe them by the sheer weight of the claims.

      Moreover, the ostensibly brilliant Steve Jobs blundered in anointing stodgy supply chain guy Tim Cook CEO and giving dilettante design guru Jony Ive the keys to the highway. The whole thing has been an elegant disaster. And when the shine wears off and the hypnotised come to their senses, market leadership will return to Microsoft. As it was meant to be. And maybe the movie deconstruction Steve Jobs will be viewed with more appreciation, by a rapidly dwindling Apple fan base.


  3. The popular perception of India is that it’s a very poor country. But there is also a substantial middle class element who work in modern businesses and who are trying to improve their lifestyle. It may be a somewhat small proportion of the population, but when you have a population of well over 1.25 billion people, just 5% of that population would represent a huge market opportunity.

    Many Indians like to display their wealth and using an aspirational brand of smartphone gives a very clear indication to others that you’re doing well. Apple doesn’t need to offer a low priced iPhone for India, it will do very well by being known as offering the expensive smartphone which is used by successful people.

    If you want to look for an example in another industry, Mercedes Benz have been putting a lot of effort into India as a market and are boasting of better than 30% growth compared to last year. They have become the best selling luxury car brand in India.

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