NEW DELHI: Just how much is too much for an Apple iPhone? Is nearly Rs 1 lakh too high a tag for a smartphone in a price-sensitive market like India which laps up affordable Rs 10,000-15,000 Android-powered phones by the tons?
The answer to both the questions is what will define world’s top brand’s strategy to carve a bigger pie of the burgeoning Indian smartphone market. Apple never took India seriously as the revenues were minuscule.
Until a few years ago, it used to launch iPhone in India months after global launch, thereby giving rise to a flourishing grey market
The situation changed in last two years, and this year, Apple had the quickest turnaround when it launched iPhone 6S and 6S Plus in India on October 16, Friday. A lot of Apple fanboys amusingly quipped Apple was finally taking India seriously after company CEO Tim Cook’s recent meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Make no mistake. Apple only takes its business seriously and it is a fact that despite stupendous demand growth, the price-sensitive Indian market still doesn’t constitute a very big chunk of Apple’s global revenues. Yet, there are signals Apple may have started taking India seriously in the past two-three years with the appointment of additional distributors and reduction in launch cycle.
But there are also signs that Apple hasn’t got its strategy right in India and the pricing of the latest iPhones indicates just that. Apple’s outrageous Indian pricing of iPhone 6S and 6S Plus puts the smartphones out of reach of most middle class buyers.
Even those who can afford to buy an iPhone feel the iterative update may not be worth the money. And the buzzword is that Apple may have over-priced its coveted gadget this time, thus making it difficult to delight Tim Cook in terms of sales.
Though Apple afficinadaos don’t like comparisons with iPhone rivals like Samsung and Sony, it is a fact that none of the flagships from both rivals are priced as high. And none comes close to the asking price of Rs 92,000 for the top-end 128GB iPhone 6 Plus!
Here is a look at the top-end smartphones available in India today and the MRP of their base models:
Apple iPhone 6S (16GB): Rs 62,000
Apple iPhone 6S Plus (16GB): Rs 72,000
Samsung Galaxy Note5 (32GB): Rs 53,900
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ (32GB): Rs 57,900
Google Nexus 6P (32GB): Rs 39,999
Google Nexus 5X (16GB): Rs 31,999
LG G4 (32GB): Rs 40,000
HTC One M9+ (32GB): Rs 52,500
OnePlus 2 (64GB): Rs 24,999
Motorola Moto X Style (16GB): Rs 29,999
Sony Xperia Z3+ (32GB): Rs 55,990
Sony Xperia Z5 (32GB): (Expected price Rs 60,000)
Though Apple and its premium brand appeal sets it apart, Apple is the only one to charge over Rs 60,000 for its smartphones. While iPhones have always commanded a premium in India due to aspirational value and Apple’s amazing hype machinery, charging Rs 72,000 for the 64GB iPhone 6S and Rs 82,000 for 64GB iPhone 6S Plus seems to indicate Apple may have bitten more than it can chew.
This pricing can fuel the grey market once again as a number of potential buyers may end up owning the handsets that come in to the country through the smuggling route, like it was not so long ago.
In fact, iPhone 6S and 6S Plus may be the costliest in India, pricier than anywhere else in the world. A quick glance at iPhone’s pricing across major markets clearly indicates Indian pricing of iPhone 6S and 6S Plus is higher by at least Rs 15,000.
This also means that the entry-level 16GB iPhone 6S model costs Rs 8,500 more than the same storage version of last year’s iPhone 6. But there has been no price increment in markets like the US and the UK and even China, despite the significant devaluation of yuan.