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Will India trigger the downfall of iPhone's market leadership?
India has been the battleground for all the global smartphone makers with all of them vying for their pie of the cake. The seemingly invincible iPhone was perceived to be amongst the frontrunners, if not leading the race. However, numbers from market research have an altogether different tell-tale. The iPhone has started to lose out to the new entrants from China like Xiaomi, OnePlus and its biggest rival Samsung.

Officially, Apple has maintained that they don't compete with Samsung and believe in the margin per phone theory rather then getting into the mad race for the market share. Yet, the numbers cannot be ignored as they are clearly reflecting the downward trend for iPhone whereas the overall market size is growing with other players showing a consistent improvement.  

Apple's iPhone revenue growth in India has fallen to 17 per cent compared to 53 per cent a year ago. 

Approximately 60 million smartphones were shipped to India during the H1 of 2018, out of which only one million were iPhones ?much lesser compared to the figures for the same period in 2017. In sharp contrast brands like Samsung, Xiaomi,Oneplus, etc, have continued to look north viz a viz their growth as well as volumes of smartphones shipped.

A sneak peek into the shipment wise percentage market share of major mobile players published in the research report speaks for itself:

Noticeably, India's homegrown brands are nowhere in the fray.

On may write off these figures as a temporary low in the sales performance owing to change in the distribution policy of Apple and also in the changing Indian government policies to promote 'Make in India'. However, seemingly, Apple's strategy to make BIG bucks by selling their handsets to the rich and the neo rich has hit a wall as their population in India is not growing at the same pace as the country's economy.

There aren't many who can afford to spend as much as US$1300-1500 on buying a smartphone, and those who can already own one or may be even two devices. Although there are many who aspire to own a premium smartphone, 'PUSH' sales schemes built around EMIs and discounts are not sustainable in the long haul. Apple is also losing out a largechunk of its prospective customers to the grey market of its own refurbished iPhones.

India is a price sensitive market which Chinese players especially OnePlus have noted and tapped into well. They are giving Apple's bosses sleepless nights with their youth targeted sales strategies for selling premium smartphones. Given the changing scenario it would take anywhere between 2-4 years for Apple to show a remarkable improvement in the Indian sales numbers and to regain  lost ground. But the time too is running out.

Smartphones, as we are familiar with now, will vanish in the next 5-7 years. Augmented Reality (AR), wearables, blockchain-based platforms, etc., would be driving the disruptions. Unless Apple is already working on introducing some disruptive product the iPhone could soon vanish much like Ericsson and Nokia. 

Google is already working hard to position itself in the space and it won't be surprising if Apple is up for competition from the likes of Facebook, Amazon or even Alibaba.

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