Is India Apple’s next big business bet after iPhone maker sees steep decline in sales in China?

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Published: January 4, 2019 4:02:48 PM

Apple CEO Tim Cook has blamed the slowdown in China for the decline in growth, apart from slowing iPhone demand in many nations as well as supply constraints.

Unlike the US and China, India remains a market in which smartphone sales is expected to rise. (Source: Reuters)

iPhone maker Apple has cut its revenue forecast for the first time in the past 16 years. The world’s most valuable company Thursday announced to cut its revenue forecast for the first quarter of 2019 to $84 billion from the earlier estimate of $89-$93 billion, owing to a steep fall in sales in China – the third largest market across the world for the company. For decline in growth, Apple CEO Tim Cook has blamed the slowdown in China, apart from slowing iPhone demand in many nations as well as supply constraints.

What does the steep decline in iPhone sales in China foretell for neighbouring India?  Some analysts told The Indian Express that the company may now focus more on India for its future growth, given that the slowdown in China is expected to rise further in 2019, amid ongoing trade war between China and the US.

“With its challenges in China and other markets, India becomes more important for Apple…But to find success in India would call for a recipe that is different from other markets due to this market’s immense value-conscious nature and huge diversity,” Navkendar Singh, Associate Research Director at IDC, told the newspaper.

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In India, the iPhone maker is looking into the options of making its devices more affordable by providing finance solutions. According to Singh, between January- September 2018, the market share of Apple in India’s smartphone market was just 1.2%. Also, this too was due to the popularity of its older models such as iPhone SE, which can be availed for Rs 16,999.

In November, Tim Cook said that the company is facing challenges in India. “It remains to be seen how seriously Apple invests itself in India. Even now, Apple is looking at using India as an export hub only, and not as an attractive market,” said Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group at CyberMedia Research (CMR).

Despite all that, India remains a market in which smartphone sales is expected to rise. Apple is also expected to expand its manufacturing presence in India to a larger portfolio of products, with support from partners Foxconn and Winstrom. Its decision to move more assembly to India from China is also being seen as an attempt to reduce iPhone cost to make its devices more affordable to the Indian population.

In the recent past, the competition in the smartphone market has increased as the Chinese firms Huawei, OnePlus, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi have raised their investments in India. Apple gets its number from the premium segment too, but all these companies too play in this segment.

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