Apple losing smartphone share in India despite big efforts

The share of iOS phones in the market dropped to 2.4 percent in the second quarter, said Strategy Analytics

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has described India as one of the company's fastest growing markets and has proposed to the government a program to offer refurbished phones in the country as a way to get around the high prices of its devices in a price-sensitive market.

Cook is also said to have discussed with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May the "possibilities of manufacturing and retailing in India," a move that would help the company avoid the high import duties on smartphones and other products that the authorities have imposed to encourage local manufacture.

However, data from Strategy Analytics suggests that until these plans are put into action the company may continue to see a middling performance in the country. Shipments of the Apple iOS on smartphones fell to 800,000 in the second quarter from 1.2 million in the same quarter last year, according to the research firm.

The market share of iOS on smartphones also dropped to 2.4 percent from 4.5 percent a year ago. In contrast, Android saw its share soar to over 97 percent from 90 percent in the same quarter last year. Android smartphone shipments grew to 29.8 million in the second quarter from 23.2 million in the same quarter last year, though these come from a large number of vendors including from Indian brands.

Android looks unbeatable right now because of its deep portfolio of hardware partners, extensive distribution channels, and a wide range of low-cost apps like Gmail, said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, in a statement.

Total smartphone shipments in India grew 19 percent annually to 30.7 million in the second quarter of this year from 25.8 million units in the second quarter of 2015.

However, there is disagreement as to whether Apple is doing badly in the Indian market after its recent efforts to shore up distribution of its products, introduce promotions and offer the cheaper iPhone SE in the country.

Gartner estimates that sales of the Apple iPhone are likely to have picked up between 15-20 percent by units in the second quarter over the same quarter in the previous year, according to its research director Anshul Gupta. That may not, however, translate into a dramatic number of Apple phones shipped, as the company is starting from a small base in the country.

Apple does not publish its India sales but according to Gartner’s estimates its iPhone shipments did not cross 1 million units in a quarter in the country at any point, Gupta said. Cook said in July during an earnings call that in the first three quarters of the company’s fiscal year, iPhone sales in India were up 51 percent year-on-year.

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