Apple is polishing plans to enter the Indian market after realizing there are more than 800 million potential customers. Rival tech giant Samsung and Indian home favorite Micromax already have a stranglehold on the Indian smartphone market, with several offerings at every price point.
Apple’s iconic high prices are a drawback in India, where the average wage is $400 a month. Not many people can spare a month’s wages to buy a smartphone. As American iPhone owners know, the price of the device is one of its most eye-catching features. Refusing to compromise, however, Apple responded with trade-in incentives and payment plan options to bring the cost down to manageable levels for most Indian consumers. But in a market saturated in alternatives and high prices slowing down sales, Apple will have to rely on more than people’s desire to be noticed to get ahead in India.
The Indian cell phone market is different from the U.S. Because most Indians get paid daily, they don’t often have large amounts of money to spend on a whim. Because of this, prices are extremely low; pizza can be had for 17 cents and a meal in a restaurant for $1.50. In comparison, the iPhone 5s costs over $500 in India, and most people have to save over a month’s worth of wages to even dream of buying one. The Indian market is currently swamped by phones with much lower price tags; over 80 percent of devices cost less than $400.
Apple is polishing plans to enter the Indian market, and they aren’t completely inflexible. Recently, they have begun to run trade-in offers where potential buyers can get an average of $200 off the price of an iPhone by trading in their old handsets. They also offer monthly payment plans in six-, eight-, and 12-month installments. The combination of these made the iPhone easier for Indians to afford without actually making it any cheaper, increasing sales in India by over 400 percent.
Apple will have a lot of work ahead if it hopes to replicate the success it has here in India, but the market is set to explode and they can’t miss it. Currently, Apple is enjoying modest sales in major Indian cities but has almost no recognition in small towns. More stores are planned, in an attempt to expand the selling network, but in small towns, the iPhone may have trouble competing with the plethora of simple affordable devices already offered. Market research firm IDC reported that shipments of smartphones into India doubled to 4.1 million last year, and they are expected to rise to 129 million next year. Expanding 3G networks are starting to make internet-capable phones more worthwhile, and the iPhone’s high-quality image and relative rarity works to entice customers looking for a new way to get noticed.
While Apple is polishing plans to enter the Indian market with renewed vigor, Micromax recently released a line of full-featured Android smartphones at rock bottom prices. Samsung, ever the thorn in Apple’s side, is responsible for over 25 percent of smartphone sales.
By Daniel O’Brien