Apple iPhone no longer a device meant for rich and famous in India

India has finally arrived on the world map for Apple. With its revenues surpassing Rs 33,300 crore in the fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2022, millions of aspirational fans in the country now want to join its ecosystem.

According to data from business intelligence platform Tofler, Apple India logged a net profit of Rs 1,263 crore, a growth of 3 per cent (year-on-year) in the fiscal year, as sales were up a massive 45 per cent.

In India, not just high-end new-generation Apple phones are flying off the shelves, older generation models like iPhone XR, 11, 12 and 13 are now popular among those who cannot afford the new handsets, thanks to attractive offers and schemes.

From your neighbourhood barber to the morning doodhwala (milkman), from your local sabzi seller to dhobi (washerman), iPhones are becoming the new norm for them and they do not mind paying a little extra over Chinese models to join the ever-growing Apple family in the country.

With an iPhone comes the need for an Apple Watch, AirPods Pro and an iPad, thus driving the entire ecosystem for the company in a country where Apple iPhones were once reserved for only the rich and the famous.

According to Tarun Pathak, Research Director at Counterpoint, India is among 20-odd countries where the ‘premiumisation’ trend has just started.

“Easy finance, buy now, pay later (BNPL), and shift from mid-tier to premium is happening. Though the premium smartphone market (over $400 retail) is only 7 per cent in India of the total smartphone market, it is likely to hit 10 per cent next year and is growing much faster (more than 14 per cent) than the overall smartphone market (7 per cent),” Pathak told IANS.

Basically, the strong aspirational and brand value, along with a wider iPhone portfolio, is now driving Apple sales in India.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said last week that the company has made a new revenue record in India in the July-September period, and continues to perform well with strong double-digit growth in the country, which is next on Apple’s big manufacturing plans.

According to CyberMedia Research (CMR), iPhones grew 44 per cent (quarter-on-quarter) in the July-September period in India, selling over 1.7 million iPhones.

“Apple posted gains in the India market in Q3, 2022 and in the run-up to the all-important festive season. We continue to see the consumer demand for premium smartphones remaining resilient, with Apple being a prime beneficiary with its iPhone sales,” Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR, told IANS.

Another key reason, according to Pathak, for growth is that Apple’s user base is at a record level in India and these users are spending more on devices and services within the Apple ecosystem.

“This led to the revenue growth as we saw in the fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2022. Apple continues to drive a new user base in India across its product categories and in a unique position with respect to the ecosystem stickiness,” he elaborated.

Despite the prevailing macro environment, Apple posted gains on the back of its strong brand equity and the sheer aspirational appeal of iPhones in India, added Ram.

Riding on the momentum, the year 2023 is likely to be a year when Apple is set to experience a growth never-seen-before in the India market, say industry experts.

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