Apple Looks to Distributors to Expand iPhone Sales in India

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is on the verge of a significant expansion of its iPhone sales effort in India, bringing on two large distribution companies to help bring the device to more points of sale. The iPhone has so far been available almost exclusively through mobile phone carriers in the country, but with the iPhone 5 reportedly launching next week, the company appears to be significantly expanding its operations.

A person who has knowledge of the plans says Apple will begin selling the iPhone through specialized distribution companies in an attempt to reach a wider audience, especially Indians who live in thousands of smaller towns.

The Cupertino, Calif. company has recently tied up the local operations of Ingram Micro Inc., a large U.S.-based distributor of technology, and Redington (India) Ltd., a local distributor with 12,000 smaller partners across the country, the person said.

Apple has existing relationships with the two distribution companies, using them to offer products such as the iPad but reportedly having held the iPhone back from them for fear of eating into profit margins.


But with Apple's share of the mobile phone market in India falling by half year-over-year to 1.2% in the second quarter, the company may now be willing to sacrifice some profits in an effort to bolster its position in the country. Still, analysts believe that Apple's market share will remain low there given the premium pricing and the fact that over 70% of phones sold in the country are priced at under $100.

While Apple has been most heavily focused on China among emerging markets, there have been signs that the company is looking at the possibility of expanding its presence in India. Earlier this year it was reported that Apple was looking at opening retail stores in the country, but requirements for domestic sourcing of materials appear to be hindering those plans. In the absence of Apple-owned retail stores, the company earlier this year was also hiring staff for an effort to expand its reseller network in the country.

Tag: wsj.com

Top Rated Comments

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105 months ago

I think the Indian population is more concern about their every day standard of living than a cell phone.


I think you should travel the world first before you make wild assumptions based upon what you saw on underclass TV.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
105 months ago
Hey Eric Slivka, Arn, and MacRumors team,

I think it is important to mention in your articles about India and China some absolute numbers, on top of relative percentage numbers. While it is true that 70% of the phones sold in India are priced under $100, that also means that 30% of the phones sold are priced above $100. 30% might not seem like a lot, but if you put that in absolute terms, that represents 75 million handsets in India. (Source: Rediff Business article (http://www.rediff.com/business/slide-show/slide-show-1-tech-mobile-handset-sales-to-boom-in-india/20121011.htm)).

Also, it might be beneficial to include absolute population terms. If we assume that the iPhone 5 16GB version (being sold at say $800) is only affordable to say 3% of the total population of India, then it will not seem that much. To many uninformed people, it will simply be "3%?! That's it?! Why bother."

But in absolute terms, 3% of the Indian population represents 33 million people.

That's a potential customer base that can rival most European countries, only if looked on an absolute number scale.

That's why, my humble opinion is that MacRumors should include absolute numbers when talking about the two heavily populated countries like India and China. Thanks!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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105 months ago

How about we make a phone with a screen bigger than 4 inches of. I'm glad I switched to a bigger gs3. Tired of apples crap.


How about you stay on topic, I'm tired of this "bigger is better" crap. If you wanted bigger you should have got a decent phone like the HTC One X. At least the One X does not flex and creak in your hand when you grip it. Also the One X has a better display by a wide margin. Either way if you really switched from iPhone to GS3 (assuming you are not just making this up and trolling) and you actually liked your new phone then why bother posting? All these supposed people who "left Apple and haven't looked back" just can't seem to leave Apple alone. Yet JD Power customer satisfaction surveys say 94% of iPhone owners intend to buy another iPhone. Somehow the plethora of forum posts like these doesn't match up with reality. I suppose the entire 6% who are dissatisfied with Apple all have MacRumors accounts. :rolleyes:
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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105 months ago

Leave India to Nokia(Micro****) and Google. That's not a market worth pursuing. The country doesn't get quality, and the only ones I see buying this are status conscious rich kids and their daddies, and that's a handful of them left in India cos most of them have already flown the coop.


*applause* Where else do you see such wisdom, ladies and gentlemen?

I would like to thank you, kind sir, for taking the time out of your undoubtedly busy schedule to impart us lesser mortals with some much needed knowledge.

I could have sworn that India was one of the largest markets in the world for anything premium and seeing that every second person here seems to own something from the Apple product line, I would've considered it a massive untapped market for Apple. But obviously I was wrong - as you've told us, the country just doesn't get quality, right?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
105 months ago
India: post iPhone 5 prices of all phones:

iPhone 4 (8 gb) - 550$
iPhone 4s(16gb)- 780$
iPhone 5 (16gb) - 889$

Samsung Galaxy S3 - 629$
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 -694$
Htc One X (16 gb) - 589$

^^^daa *** is wrong with apple when it comes to pricing in India?? Do they go full retard or something??

Notice the difference between HTC One X and 2 year old iphone 4 (8 GB version)
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
105 months ago
The problem with previous iPhone releases here in India was the price. Even though when the iPhone 3G, 3GS & 4 were released tied to the mobile operators, they didnt subsidise the phone a bit. Also their iPhone specific talk plans were a rip off or day light robbery.

With iPhone 4S Apple started to sell via operators frirst and then later via its authorised resellers, but again the prices were kept very high.

This has prevented the high penetration in Indian market.

If the iPhone was released like in USA at $199 (INR 11,000) tied to an operator, then it would had captured the marked and outsold any other smartphone here.

Sadly that was not the case...and hopefully Apple will rectify this problem by selling atleast the unlocked handsets with prices at par with Global unlocked handsets.

The earnings of most well educated Indians atleast in metros is pretty good and they can easily afford unlocked iPhones even at current sky high prices. i've seen lots of people with iPhone in India although their ratio compared to Android or BlackBerry is low. But with competitive prices from Apple, this will soon change.

I've used every model of iPhone from 2G to 4....skipped the 4S and now waiting to buy the 64 GB iPhone 5 on launch day.:apple:
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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