2020: The year Apple found its mojo back in India – Times of India

It’s not been a normal year by any measure as a global pandemic has been raging on impacting lives like never before. Perhaps in a rather perverse way it is fitting that Apple is not having a ‘normal’ year either in India. The Cupertino-based tech giant is on course to having one of its greatest ever years in a market that has proven to be a tough nut to crack. If analysts’ estimates are to be believed, Apple will end the year with as many 2.5 million shipments of the iPhone in 2020. If Apple does hit that number then it would have sold the most iPhones in India since 2017.
How 2020 shaped up for Apple
Apple began the first quarter on a high. As per Counterpoint Research, in the first quarter of 2020, Apple registered a 78% year-on-year growth in smartphone shipments. The growth was attributed to the strong sales of iPhone 11 and deals and discounts offered on sites like Amazon and Flipkart. In the premium segment, Apple commanded 55% market share, ahead of the likes of OnePlus and Samsung.
During the second quarter — hit by the lockdown — Apple’s market share was down to close to 49%, as per IDC. However, according to Canalys, iPhone shipments were close to 250,000 in the second quarter when overall smartphone shipments were down by 47%. Once again it was the iPhone 11 — along with iPhone XR — that helped Apple as two iPhones together accounted for 28% shipments in the premium segment. The launch of iPhone SE in April helped Apple make its presence felt in the mid-premium segment as well.

In Q3, according to Canalys, Apple registered double-digit growth and sold close to 800,000 iPhone units. “Apple is finally paying attention to India,” Canalys Research Director, Rushabh Doshi, had said at the time. “It has opened a direct online store, giving it several new angles in its go-to-market strategy, such as utilizing device trade-ins to provide purchase incentives, or bundling AirPods with iPhones to make them more appealing.”
The Apple Online store in India opened in September, so that really didn’t give it a push but it was the strong sales of iPhone 11 which helped Apple. That’s not to say that the Apple Online store hasn’t helped as it is a big part of Apple’s growth strategy in the country. Buying iPhones directly from Apple is a big plus for customers and Apple has been smart to offer deals like free AirPods with iPhone 11 during the festive period.

Apple CEO Tim Cook during the quarterly investors’ call also revealed that September quarter was a record setting one in India for the company.
More than the iPhone for Apple in India
While the iPhone is the bread and butter for Apple in the country, other products too have been quite well. Counterpoint Research’s data showed that Apple increased its share by 6% in the true wireless headphones market. Apple AirPods (2nd-gen) are the fifth best selling true wireless headphones in the country. Considering they start at Rs 14,999, it’s quite remarkable as the leading brands like bOat, Xiaomi, Realme and JBL all operate in entry-level price segments mainly.
The MacBook too has been doing quite well for Apple in India. According to IDC, Q3 was the best ever quarter for MacBook shipments in India as it grew by 19.4%.
The road ahead for Apple in India
Overall, Apple still remains a ‘small’ player in India as Chinese brands like Oppo, Xiaomi, Realme, Vivo continue to dominate the market. Chinese brands have more than 75% overall market share in India. But in the premium space, 2020 has proven to be a great year for Apple. It has maintained its dominance and having an iPhone starting from Rs 40,000 (iPhone SE) to Rs 1.5 lakh (iPhone 12 Pro Max), it has an opportunity to cater to every kind of premium phone buyer.
The iPhone has always been aspiration but unaffordable for most people. Not that it has become less expensive but there have been more choices for Indian consumers when it comes to iPhone.

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