By some estimates, India’s middle class consists of 250 to 300 million people. That’s just a few million below China’s middle-income demographic numbers, so Apple simply cannot neglect India. Having only sold about 500,000 iPhones in India last year (and half of those just in the last quarter), that’s slim pickings compared to Apple’s over two million iPhone 5 sales in China alone. Apple’s shown a strong interest in China with Tim Cook going to Beijing last month.
For 2013, according to mobile research firm Canalys, Apple is looking at ramping up its partnerships with Indian distributors like Ingram Micro and Reddington, playing nice with payment plans, and doing more marketing. The company also opened sales of Apple TV, and started up the India iTunes Store this month. Basically, making it much easier for consumers to know that Apple is accessible. But there’s no Apple Store in Mumbai, the country’s biggest city, in contrast to the two in Beijing.
The problem is, Android is cheap for low-end models. And cheap is where the growth is in India. As we noted last week, Indian Android fans love Samsung handsets, but the smaller and cheaper models are more popular. Realistically, India’s middle class numbers indicate nothing, because the purchasing power parity income is around $3,608. A software engineer in India can barely afford an iPhone, which runs well over $800.
By October 2012, Android owns India with over 50 percent of the smartphone market, whereas iOS is at a low five percent.
With rumors of Apple’s cheap iPhone dying out, it’s pretty clear that Apple needs to capture the hearts and minds of luxury-product buying Indians before it’s too late. With Android having already caught up to iOS in terms of features, apps, and power, it’s not looking good.
So, when are we going to see Tim Cook in Mumbai?
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