Don’t get too excited, but there are early signs that Apple has figured out how to sell iPhones in India.
For years, Apple has largely ignored the Indian market, letting Samsung swoop in and dominate. A big part of the problem for Apple is that the iPhone retails for over $850 in India because carriers do not subsidise the cost of the phone.
As Apple’s growth in developed markets like the U.S. and Europe slows, it can no longer afford to ignore the Indian market. It needs to sell iPhones in India to expand its smartphone sales and marketshare.
The Times of India says Apple is “in the middle of an extensive advertising and marketing campaign for its iPhone.” It’s also shifting how it sells iPhones. Instead of relying on carriers, it’s going to distributors to sell the phones directly.
The effort is paying off. Citing IDC numbers, it says Apple’s iPhone sales are up 3-4X over the last three months.
But that 3-4X increase is coming from a really small base. At the Asymco conference last week, IBM VP Paul Brody said mobile carriers are activating 2,000 iPhones per day in India. If you average that out across a quarter, it’s only ~180,000 new iPhones per quarter.
Apple sold 47.8 million iPhones last quarter, and that was short of expectations. Adding 200,000 more iPhone sales is nice, but it’s not going to be enough to get Apple’s growth firing again.
Still, this is in the early stages. It’s much better than nothing. And if Apple does start selling a low-cost iPhone, having the groundwork laid in India could prove to be a very big deal.