A colleague has just bought an iPhone 5S (16GB) at a little over Rs 16,000 and another has made up his mind to book the Bengaluru-assembled iPhone SE (32GB) at Rs 26,000 that features several flagship iPhone specifications at a lower price. Primarily a premium segment player, Apple is slowly opening up new avenues to expand its presence in India, a price-sensitive market with a gigantic user base scouting for devices in the Rs 15,000-Rs 30,000 range.The number of smartphone users in India is expected to reach 340 million by the end of this year and, currently, Apple has three per cent market share by volume and 11 per cent share by value in the country. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently told Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in the US on an official visit, that his company is positive about the production of iPhone SE model in Bengaluru. iPhone SE is targeted in a price range where flagships from the Chinese manufacturers are ruling the roost. But once Apple goes full-throttle with iPhone production in the country, the scenario could be completely different.Given the fact that the China market is not expected to grow as rapidly as India in the next few years, industry experts feel that the country presents itself as the next big market with a huge number of smartphone replacement users, along with feature phones to smartphone migrants. Apple’s partner Wistron Corporation is manufacturing iPhone SE in Bengaluru. “Although iPhone SE is a mid-tier focused device, it is certainly a different device compared to other older generation iPhones in the sense that it has the latest OS and features you would normally get in flagship models.From this perspective, this is an updated device,” Anshul Gupta, Research Director at Gartner, told IANS. The mix of iPhone sales in the Apple portfolio has always been in favour of older models. Even during the first quarter this year, more than half of the iPhone sales came from older models. In the first quarter of 2017, the premium segment (over Rs 30,000) grew at 35 per cent (year-on-year) with Samsung accounting for 48 per cent market share, followed closely by Apple at 43 per cent.But Apple looks set to shift the game to mid-end segment. or Narinder Kumar, analyst at Cybermedia Research, Apple should target youth and professionals in tier 1 and 2 cities to propel demand. “For that, the company should strengthen its channel network and increase the number of service centres. It should go for exclusive financial tie-ups, buybacks/exchange and extended guarantee offers,” Kumar added. Apple is surely already looking into this. Wait for a new Apple India story to unfold soon.
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