Home/ Companies / News/  Apple sales get off to a flying start in India

NEW DELHI : Apple Inc. appears to be on firm footing to continue its run of robust India sales after record growth in 2021, with iPhone shipments set to outpace the overall smartphone market this year because of local manufacturing and demand for premium phones, market researchers said.

“We are estimating 25% shipment growth for Apple. The overall smartphone market is expected to grow by 14%. So, Apple will grow faster than the market in 2022," said Tarun Pathak, research director at Counterpoint Research.

Apple’s smartphone market share doubled in the past year, with the company shipping about 6 million iPhones in India, the highest ever, even as overall smartphone shipments rose 11%, according to Counterpoint analysts who expect Apple to “have another record year in India".

After struggling for years to sell its expensive imported models, local manufacturing of relatively cheaper models has helped Apple cut prices and boost demand in India. However, the top-end iPhones are still way costlier in India than in other countries because of high import tax, putting it beyond the reach of all but wealthy Indians. Easy availability of financing has also helped sales of its pricey phones. Apple has leveraged its local manufacturing to offer discounts to consumers, especially during the festive season sales, Prachir Singh, senior research analyst at Counterpoint, said, enumerating the reasons for the growth.

According to Counterpoint Research, iPhone shipments rose 34% during the December quarter, when significant festive season sales took place in India.

Shipments refer to the number of smartphones sent by companies to distributors and wholesalers. Though the shipment number closely reflects the number of units sold, it may not hold true for all smartphone models.

Singh added that the premium segment was the driving factor for overall growth and will remain so in 2022. “Apple has covered the premium segment in a holistic manner and has a model for each segment--be it premium, mid-premium or affordable premium. In 2022, Apple will launch a new model in the iPhone SE series, and iPhone 12 will be sold at the price of the iPhone 11. As a result, shipments of iPhone 11 will decline," Singh added.

The fact that iPhone 12 is 5G ready also makes it more appealing than the iPhone 11 and earlier models. According to Singh, the government has also announced that 5G will be auctioned this year, making iPhone 12 a compelling option in the premium segment.

Market researcher Canalys recently predicted that India would see upward momentum in the adoption of technologies that are future-proof, and consumers will prefer devices that are ready when 5G services roll out.

That said, Counterpoint analysts do not expect the rise in shipment sales to translate into any significant increase in market share. Apple’s market share had almost doubled in 2021 to 4%. Counterpoint’s Singh said Apple’s overall market share in India is expected to improve, but only marginally.

Navkendar Singh, research director at IDC India, also believes Apple will replicate last year’s success in 2022. However, he explained that the growth in shipments would not change Apple’s market position any time soon.

According to estimates by IDC’s Singh, Apple is currently ranked No. 7 and is unlikely to break into the Top 5 as the Top 6 vendors, which include Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo, Oppo, Realme and Transsion, are also expected to grow. “This market is dominated by the big boys who are getting bigger. At least, there are no signs of them getting smaller."

“India is the last standing market of its size even with replacement of all these to 5G in next few years. And that unicorn of 500 million who don’t use smartphones is also there," IDC’s Singh added.

Pathak concurred, adding, “Apple’s position in the Top 10 brands will slip in 2022 due to expected increase in shipments of Jio’s entry-level smartphones." According to Canalys, Jio shipped close to 2 million units of Jio Phone Next in the December quarter.

Abhijit Ahaskar
Abhijit writes on tech policy, gaming, security, AI, robotics, electronics and startups. He has been in the media industry for over 12 years.
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Updated: 05 Feb 2022, 12:05 AM IST
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