With 2015 increasingly looking like a possible ‘peak’ revenue and profitability year now, Apple has turned to India – one of its fastest-growing markets – for growth. CEO Tim Cook spoke about a 50 percent growth in India, and headroom for growth at the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call for the month ending September 2016. Before you rush to declare India as Apple’s saviour, keep in mind that this is just an upgrade really, putting India in the same category as other ‘growth’ markets including Canada, Latin America, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia.
On iPhone sales in India, Cook said that “Our iPhone sales in India were up over 50 percent in fiscal 2016 compared to the prior year, and we believe we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of this large and growing market opportunity.” The numbers follow a consistent growth path in India now after the previous quarter also reported similar numbers.
Apple’s partnership with Reliance Jio was also touted as a possible driver for India sales. “Looking ahead, we’re seeing some very exciting developments in India. Reliance Jio is rolling out a first-of-its-kind all-IP network in India with 4G coverage in 18,000 cities and 200,000 villages across the country. They’re offering a free year of service to purchasers of new iPhones and we’re partnering with them to ensure great iPhone performance on their network.”, said Cook.
On the India-China comparison, where Cook has predicted China will be the largest market for Apple by 2020, Cook sidestepped a direct comparison.
“On India, I think it’s important to look not only at per capita income but sort of look at the number of people that are or will move into the middle class sort of over the next decade. And the age of the population, if you look at India, almost 50 percent of the population is under 25. And so you have a very, very young population,” Cook said.
For India, being on Apple’s list of priorities is a new feeling, having only last year being acknowledged as a key market, with the company working on bringing the Apple Stores to the country. While the iPhone 5s, the cheapest iPhone available in India, remains popular in the Indian market, the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have been well received too, helped along by a competitor who will probably have to give a separate warranty on batteries soon. Google’s Pixel remains the only comparable option for Android fans this quarter, a time when Indians might just see some unprecedented love from Apple in the form of some great festive offers finally.