There's finally a glimmer of hope for Apple's iPhone in India
The iPhone XR was the best-selling iPhone in 2019
Citing market data gathered by Counterpoint Research, a new report by Bloomberg claims Apple saw iPhone shipments in India grow by 6% year-on-year throughout 2019. The results are far from incredible, but they mark a vast improvement over 2018 when iPhone sales plummeted 43%.
Apple had a rough start to 2019 in India due to the poor reception of the iPhone XS and increasing competition from rivals. Fortunately, it managed to salvage things hallway through the year with a $250 price cut to the iPhone XR.
Apple has started shifting focus to newer models
In light of the positive trends last year, Apple has slowly begun “shifting focus from older-generation iPhones” such as the iPhone 7 or iPhone 8 to the latest models. The iPhone 11 was the first example of this because it debuted in India just one month after its global launch, significantly earlier than previous years.
This phone's lower starting price helped Apple “gain share during the festive season” and provided a big boost to sales for the entire fourth quarter. Apple is hoping the low-cost iPhone 9 will continue the trend once it arrives in March and sustain demand from local customers.
The new iPhone is going to pair the latest flagship processor and software with an older design based on the iPhone 8. It's an odd combination, but it should help keep pricing as low as $399, making it much more accessible to Indian consumers.
To put the lack of demand into perspective, an impressive 158 million smartphones were shipped in India last year. Apple sold less than 2 million during the same twelve-month period, giving it a market share of just 1.2%.
These numbers are down by a quarter when compared to iPhone shipments in 2016, but market data suggests the premium segment is growing 20% per year, so Apple can easily grow if it learns how to compete locally.
The strategy for 2020 won't be that different
Apple’s strategy for India in 2020 isn’t expected to change too much, although it’s expected to continue trying to make iPhones more affordable to local buyers in a bid to boost interest.
It recently started offering zero-interest monthly payments to customers, allowing them to evenly spread the cost of a device over several months, and should gradually increase local iPhone production.
The final part of Apple’s strategy this year involves physical locations. It hasn’t yet been able to build a store in the market but is continuously working with the local government to gain permission.