Old iPhones aid Apple’s India biz

Driven by older iPhone models such as the iPhone SE 2020, iPhone 11 and iPhone XR, Apple’s India business almost doubled during the December quarter, said industry analysts.

“There are certain markets where our share is quite low. India is one of them. It did improve from the year-ago quarter. Our business roughly doubled. So, we feel pretty good about the trajectory,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in an earnings call on Wednesday night.

“Last quarter was the first full quarter of the online store, and that has gotten a great reaction to it and helped us achieve the results that we got. We’re also going in there with retail stores in the future, and we look to that to be a great initiative,” Cook added.

Experts said Apple’s market share in India grew from 2% in December quarter 2019 to 4% in 2020. According to Prachir Singh, senior research analyst, Counterpoint Research, over 50% of the sales were driven by older iPhones. The iPhone SE (2020) accounted for 30% of the company’s shipments, followed by iPhone 11 (27%) and iPhone XR (14%). The rest was accounted for by iPhone 12 series, which arrived late last year, he added.

Apple has been cutting the prices of its older iPhones following the launch of new models for a few years, which helped it increase its market share in India, where iPhones are still an aspirational product.

“Lower iPhone price has put them within the reach of a lot more people in India,” said Rushabh Doshi, research director, Canalys. “With the new pricing strategy, they’ve started eroding market share of Samsung. Also, the premium Android segment has become a sea of sameness now. Earlier Samsung was alone. Now there is Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi in their segment. That is where Apple gets a one up.”

Doshi said the allure of Apple is “stronger” now since it’s no longer out of reach for the more affluent middle class. “What also helped is that Amazon and Flipkart ran their Apple Day sales and they were much more beneficial to Apple than their own online store,” Doshi said.

India has become a growing market for Apple over the past year. In the September 2020 quarter, Apple posted strong growth, even as iPhone sales fell globally. Apple didn’t disclose the exact revenue numbers for India in July-September, but its revenue from Asia Pacific, excluding China, grew 10% over the year. The December quarter saw APAC revenue grow 11% to about $8.2 billion.

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