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Apple Struggling in Indian Smartphone Market

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Currently, Apple ships fewer iPhones to India than Research In Motion and Nokia. (Photo: Apple.com)
Currently, Apple ships fewer iPhones to India than Research In Motion and Nokia. (Photo: Apple.com)


  • iPhone accounts for just 2.6% of Indian market
  • Shipments to India fewer than to Norway in Q2
  • Slow development of 3G networks damaging to iPhone sales

Apple is struggling to make iPhone sales take off in India, the world’s second-largest mobile phone market.

The emerging Indian economy attracts leading tech players from all over the world and has some 602 million smartphone subscribers. But the number one smartphone manufacturer has been unable to mirror the dominance it has shown elsewhere throughout the world.

India is one of the major developing markets for smartphones, with shipments expected to increase by 70% per year for the next four years. The market will be worth some $9.4 billion for Apple by 2015, according to business news website itvoir.com.

India Networks “Not Conducive”

However for the moment Apple ships fewer iPhones to India than Research In Motion and Nokia. The main reason is that wireless providers have been slow to develop 3G networks, with the infrastructure only becoming operational this year. Wireless connections remain too slow to make full use of the iPhone’s apps and features, which is damaging Apple’s penetration and benefiting the BlackBerry manufacturer, according to Scotia Capital analyst Gus Papageorgiou.

“Networks in India are just not conducive for Apple. 3G networks aren’t quite where they are in Western Europe and North America. RIM got the right product, the right timing, the right app,” Papageorgiou told Bloomberg.

In the second quarter of 2011, 62,043 iPhones were shipped to India, less than the number shipped to Norway, Israel or Belgium. The iPhone represented 2.6% of smartphone devices shipped to the country in Q2, with Nokia accounting for 46% ahead of Samsung’s 21% and 15% for BlackBerry, industry analyst IDC reported.

BBM Going Strong

BlackBerry Messenger, one of the first instant mobile messaging services, remains one of the strongest selling points for Research In Motion as it operates well on India’s mobile networks.

Tablets PCs are slowly gaining in popularity in India but only 21,150 Apple iPads were shipped in the second quarter, representing 18.4% of India’s post-PC market and just 0.2% of the company’s global shipments.

Samsung has 45.8% of the Indian post-PC market, which counted around 158,000 units at end June. The Galaxy Tab 7 was the first tablet device to be launched in the country in October 2010, while the iPad was only released in January. Research In Motion’s PlayBook accounted for 21% of the market, according to CyberMedia.

Key Statistics – Apple in India

  • Apple’s iPhone made up 2.6% of smartphone shipments in India in the second quarter of 2011; Research In Motion’s BlackBerry accounted for 15%; with 21% for Samsung and Nokia the market leader with 46%. (source: ICD)
  • Apple shipped 62,043 iPhones and 21,150 iPads to India in the second quarter of 2011. (source: ICD)
  • Smartphone shipments to India are expected to rise at a rate of 68% per year for the next four years, reaching a total of 81.5 million units by 2015. (source: ICD)
  • The iPad will make up 25-30% of around 200,000 tablets shipped in 2011. (source: Gartner)

By James Mulholland for
James Mulholland is a Paris-based internet and broadcast journalist specializing in sports, current affairs and technology news, while also freelancing as a photographer.

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