The smartphone market in India witnessed a 12% growth in the first quarter of 2016, according to Canalys, a market analysis firm.
Surprisingly, it was Lenovo that saw the highest growth amongst all the vendors. With a 63% increase in shipments from last quarter, Lenovo sat proudly on top of the leaderboards.
Following on a close second was our beloved Apple. The maker of iPhone saw a 56% increase in sales.
This should come as a relief for everyone at Cupertino. In the past couple of months, Apple has faced many setbacks, including
- Decline in global iPhone sales for the first time ever
- Far from encouraging success of the iPhone SE
- A mysterious death at the campus
- The Indian government’s rejection of its plea to import refurbished iPhones
- The Indian government’s rejection of waiving the 30% local-sourcing rule
Among all these upsets, it must feel good to have one bit of positive news.
“Apple is outperforming the overall market in India, and still has great growth potential,” the Canalys report noted. “It is seriously challenging Samsung’s dominance of the premium segment.“
While that’s all music to Apple’s ears, it’s still far from achieving its goal in India.
The smartphone market is ruled by Samsung right now. It enjoys nearly half of the market share. Micromax, Intex, Lenovo and Lava are all established brands as well. Together, they hog the market, leaving Apple with less than 2% of the market.
In the high-end device category (devices priced over $300), Apple’s results have been the best so far. Compared to last year, Apple’s market share in this category nearly tripled, going from 11% to 29%.
Where Apple is losing out big time is the midrange and entry-level market. Amongst devices priced under INR 20,000, Apple’s presence is hardly felt.
And that’s not a good sign because nearly three-quarters of all smartphones sold in India fall under this price bracket.
“Apple’s growth run could be short-lived,” the report continued. “The 5s’ success in India has more to do with [the] affordability of a premium brand than a preference for smaller phones, and the move to the more expensive SE will discourage budget buyers.”
The Indian government’s recent restructuring of online marketplace has also severely impacted prices. The deep discounts being offered by Indian e-commerce websites have suddenly vanished, making the iPhone a lot more expensive than what it was just two months ago.
The Indian smartphone market is one of the few markets in the world that has not reached saturation. By the end of this decade, we are likely to become the world’s leading consumers of smartphones. It’s no secret that India is a cash cow for mobile manufacturers.
Apple’s principle strategies have therefore started to see largely desi flavors over the past few months. The faster Apple establishes itself in India, the better it is going to perform.
But unlike other big countries, the Indian policy sphere is fraught with uncertainty. If the last couple of weeks have taught us anything, it is that even small shifts in the political scenario can result in huge losses.
Tim Cook’s recent visit to India has seen mixed results. While Apple has seen advancements on some fronts, others seem as stuck as ever. But Cook should’t lose hope. He should take a leaf out of Dhoni’s book, and stay calm at this small victory, for the match is far from won!!