Apple is facing new headwinds in India, the world’s fastest growing smartphone market where it has a market share of only 2 per cent, after the departure of three senior executives and weak iPhone sales in the first half of the year.
Sources told Bloomberg the US-based company lost its national sales and distribution head; the leader of its commercial channels and mid-market business; and the chief of mobile operator sales. Its local sales team is being restructured, one source said.
Data from Counterpoint Research showed Apple sold 3.2 million iPhones in India in 2017, but the research company estimated sales fell to less than 1 million units in the first half of 2018, meaning “even if they show a big jump in the traditionally strong second half, Apple will still fall short of last year,” research director Neil Shah told Bloomberg.
Apple started manufacturing lower-priced iPhone SE smartphones in India in May 2017.
High tariffs on smartphones, which boost prices by 15 per cent to 20 per cent, make iPhone models even more expensive in India, with consumers favouring lower-cost devices from Samsung, Xiaomi and Oppo.
Xiaomi unseated Samsung as the top smartphone vendor in India in Q4 2017 and remained in the lead in Q1 2018 with 31 per cent market share compared with Samsung’s 25 per cent, Canalys data showed.
Tim Cook, Apple CEO, said in May India set a new fiscal first-half record for revenue, noting there are obviously huge opportunities in the world’s second-largest smartphone market.
In November 2017 he said: “I feel like we’re making good progress there and are gaining understanding of the market, but we still have a long way to go…I do feel great about the growth rate.”
Outside of China and Japan, revenue growth in Asia has been sluggish: in fiscal Q2 ending 31 March Apple’s revenue in the region rose 4 per cent to $3.96 billion.