Apple is struggling to sell the iPhone in India, the third biggest smartphone market in the world, and has lost several important sales executives in the country. Apple’s market share stood at around 2.5% at the end of 2017. It sold just 3.2 million iPhones in India last year, while less than a million were shipped in the first half of 2018. Apple’s market share has dropped to an all-time low in India, with its share of the smartphone market dropping to below 2%. If you’re wondering how Apple lost its market value in India, here are 10 reasons why:

  1. Nobody wants to spend a year’s worth income

We live in a country where the average per capita income is around $2,000 a year, even the cheapest of this year’s new iPhones, the XR at 76,900 rupees ($1,058), costs twice as much as many of the alternatives. Apple should keep in mind that India is a price sensitive market.

2. Death by taxes

The company imports almost 70% – 80% of its phones to India. In turn, the government levies high import taxes on the Apple products that will make them expensive. For example, the basic iPhone XR in the United States is $749 (₹ 54,000) that is only two-thirds of the retail price in India.

3. The ‘Make In India’ tax

The government of India has increased its import duties to give a boost to its ‘Make in India’ campaign. By increasing import duties on mobile phones, the government has made the imports of the components required for local assembly, duty-free or taxable at lower rates. the Indian government has been pushing smartphone makers to set up shop in the country.

4. Indians prefer cheaper devices

In a report by Counterpoint, Indians prefer cheaper devices from Asians manufacturers such as Samsung, Oppo, One Plus and Vivo. Apple doesn’t even rank among the Top five smartphone makers in India. Any Indian would say ” Why am I paying ₹1lakh for a phone with just 4GB RAM when I can get twice that for one-fifth of the price?”

5. The crippled iOS software

On older iPhones, Apple’s iOS updates have also crippled the experience of the iPhone.  A few years ago, there was a strong argument in favour of iPhones as it would perform well for over two years. The recent Apple updates have made iPhones inferior in comparison to the newer Android phone that almost cost the same. Apple is addressing this issue in this year’s iOS 12 update, which makes huge performance improvements to older iPhones, but it could be too little too late.

6. Software glitches

Indian consumers over the years have complained that Apple’s voice assistance ‘Siri’ cannot process their requests in local languages and doesn’t understand Indian accents as well as the Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa. Apple also does not provide access to Apple Pay. Apple’s biggest software disaster is the Apple Map app. It was noticed that Apple Maps can’t give turn-by-turn directions or identify points of interest. It lacks local restaurants and movie information in India.

7. Hardware disadvantages

Apple’s iPhones lack expandable storage for convenience and a dual sim support system (except the iPhone XR and Xs). With newer models like the iPhone 7, iPhone 8 and iPhone X, there isn’t even a headphone jack — something competitors like Samsung and OnePlus are providing to customers in the premium segment.

8. Battery failure

Apple’s iPhones have never been known for battery life. The most affordable iPhone in India (iPhone SE) has a meagre 1,624 mAh battery, while phones half its price are pushing battery packs that are more than double the size.

9. Faulty Apple Services

Apple has been overtaken by other tech giants like Google and Amazon, hack even Microsft has better services than Apple. For mapping, most people use Google Maps. For search, Google Search becomes the default, and for productivity, Microsoft’s Office crushes Apple’s iWork apps. Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa do a better job and this is despite the fact that Apple was the first company to deploy a virtual assistant.

10. Late in localising services in India

Apple has been late in localising services in India. Apple isn’t localising its services for India in the way it has attempted to for China. This is indicative of the fact that Apple hasn’t taken the time or put enough resources behind localising its services for this country. Samsung and Huawei have R&D centres in India customising services for the market. Xiaomi also prioritises and customises products for India. Apple opened an App Accelerator in Bangalore and a facility for Apple Maps in Hyderabad only in 2016. Google has had software and services being developed out of India since the mid-2000s, while Microsoft has been in India since the early 90’s.

The big takeaway is that Apple’s brand positioning makes its life hard enough in a market where feature phone sales are still growing, however, it hasn’t helped its own cause by not investing in India in a timely manner and also not adopting and partaking quickly enough in initiatives of the Indian government which has put it at a disadvantage with regards to lobbying.


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