Apple struggles with iPhone sales in India, the world’s largest untapped market

“Smartphone makers, facing sputtering growth in the rest of the world, have looked to India to make up the difference. With 1.3 billion consumers, the country is the world’s biggest untapped tech market,” Newley Purnell and Tripp Mickle report for The Wall Street Journal. “Just 24% of Indians own smartphones, and the number of users is growing faster than in any other country, according to research firm eMarketer.”

“The number of iPhones shipped in India has fallen 40% so far this year compared with 2017, and Apple’s market share there has dropped to about 1% from about 2%, research firm Canalys estimates. The Cupertino, Calif., company posted revenues of $1.8 billion in India this fiscal year. That is less than half of what executives had once hoped to capture, said a person familiar with its targets,” Purnell and Mickle report. “‘It’s been a rout,’ said Ishan Dutt, an analyst at research firm Canalys.”

“More than 75% of the smartphones sold in the country cost less than $250 and 95% cost less than $500, analysts estimate,” Purnell and Mickle report. “Among Apple’s current lineup, its lowest-priced phone in India is the iPhone 7, which typically costs around $550. Older models the company has phased out are still available in India at lower prices, including the iPhone SE for about $250.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple sells premium products to premium customers at premium prices.

Premium customers have disposable income and the proven will to spend it on services such as iCloud storage plans and Apple Music subscriptions after the initial sale.

Chasing unit share for unit share’s sake is the errand of fools.

Apple doesn’t look to own the entire market, just the profitable top end. They leave low profit/unprofitable table scraps for the rest to squabble over.

We can’t do it. We just can’t ship junk. There are thresholds that we can’t cross because of who we are… We don’t offer stripped-down, lousy products. Ya know? We just don’t offer categories of products like that. — Steve Jobs, 2007

Articles that attribute unit sales totals to “success” and “failure” are written for dunces.

Little Mikey had a lemonade stand. Okay, it was a kiosk. He sold 100 (8 oz.) cups yesterday for 10-cents each. He spent 11-cents per cup for artificial lemon flavoring, corn syrup, and the paper cups. He used tap water because it was free. Threw it all together in a big plastic pail. He’s out a buck for all of his trouble. Boy, that was a lot of work for less than nothing!

Around the block, little Steve runs a lemonade stand, too. It’s all blonde wood and very clean. He sold 50 (24 oz.) glasses yesterday for 50-cents each. He spent 20-cents per glass on fresh-squeezed lemons, pure cane sugar, spring water (mixed with the utmost care), and some very nice glassware (he buys in bulk and gets a good price). He took home $15 yesterday.

He’s currently building his newest stand right where Mikey’s used to be.MacDailyNews, April 23, 2009

No one wants a ‘cheap’ iPhone: Apple sells premium products – December 10, 2018
Apple appoints Nokia veteran Ashish Chowdhary to lead India operations – November 13, 2018
Here’s Apple’s plan to stop losing in the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market – August 6, 2018
Apple sales execs depart as company flounders in India – July 16, 2018
Made-in-India iPhone 6s production underway as Apple looks to avoid Indian import tax – June 26, 2018
Apple ups iPhone prices in India as government hikes taxes on imported phones – December 18, 2017
India raises import tax on electronic products, including cellphones; move to hurt Apple – December 15, 2017
Apple slashes prices of iPhone 7, iPhone 7 plus, iPhone 6s in India – September 14, 2017
Apple seeks tax breaks for suppliers to make iPhones in India – August 1, 2017
Indian Prime Minister Modi meets with Apple CEO Cook ahead of President Trump today – June 26, 2017
Apple broadens their iPhone attack in India, the world’s second biggest mobile market – June 22, 2017
Apple is making old iPhones new again to win India – June 12, 201
Apple again asks Indian government to allow sale of certified refurbished iPhones in India – February 6, 2017
Indian IT minister says Apple plans to make iPhones in Bengaluru – February 3, 2017
Apple nears deal to manufacture products in India – January 25, 2017
Apple is ready to make iPhones in India, for a price – January 20, 2017
India to consider Apple request for tax breaks and policy exemptions with ‘open mind’ – January 18, 2017
Apple is horse-trading mightily with India – January 4, 2017
Apple appoints veteran executive to revive sluggish India sales as supply issues hamper iPhone X launch – December 19, 2017

Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. We know how this works. You bought a little Ford Focus, then a Honda Accord, and then. Mazda CX-5, and then an Infiniti Q50…

    Sure, average cars are more than “good enough” now a days, it lux cars keep growinbrg in sales and market share.

    You at BK or Subway, it now you eat Chipotle or Panda or something other Thank Taco Bell.

    We tend to move north and want more premium experiences as we grow older and get use to what we currently have – people don’t like to go backwards…

    India buyers will move north over time, and so long as Apple has the high end share, that’s their cap in a bad economic country. Other “non-profit” companies can fill the gap there. Not a huge deal to Apple or companies that seek best-in-class product, service and support, while making some margin also.

  2. I disagree, that MDN that Chasing unit share for unit share’s sake is the errand of fools.

    Not Wise,

    Sure, tell that to wall street that just destroyed aapl due to declining unit sales. Profit is profit and a customer no matter whom should be valued and respected.

    Yes, they will grow into new devices and services,

    This is like Hillary’s “Deplorable’s” attitude. I don’t ever think Steve Jobs would want to limit it’s customers, He’d want to empower ALL, and that should be Apple’s attitude.

    Sell Sell Sell.

  3. I could be wrong, but I thought Apple was building or has built an iPhone assembling plant to pump out the legacy SE models after some sort of deal with the Indian Government. I was actually having a faint hope that SE2 might be assembled there too.
    What had happened? Did the deal with the government go sour?

  4. The iPhone SE is the entry door into the iOS ecosystem for many people not willing to pay for a more expensive phone. And besides the size of the SE is perfect for many people not interested in bigger phones .

      1. Of course, that was in the context of the article, the iPhone.

        As far as the Mac goes, I have a 2013 Hexacore. It literally replaced a Mac Mini.

        Unless things change 180 degrees, in every way, that’s it. The hardware sacrifices, both in price and choice, to have OSX are just not worth it for me anymore. Windows has improved.

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