Apple iPhone SE is meant for India, but preferred by developed markets instead!

India still stands of great importance to Apple, just like for other companies such as Google and Facebook, as it is said to be treading the same path as China.

It's not been the usual year for Apple. A sales decline prediction, legal battle with the FBI, and slumping iPad sales among others have kept the company on its toes! Going against the grain, it also planned three iPhones this year, out of which the iPhone SE expands its portfolio into the 'cheaper' range of devices. In fact, the new iPhone SE is supposed to be the saviour that we've been talking about, and a major step to prove all those predictions wrong.

It's been over three weeks that the iPhone SE is on store shelves, available for consumers to buy. While there are no official numbers from Apple on how well it's fairing, Localyics has shared some research with numbers that Apple recorded in the past three weeks. The graph below gives a look at the worldwide adoption of the iPhone SE. It clearly shows the UK, Hong Kong, France and Canada topping the charts with 1 percent adoption each, followed by Germany, the US, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia.

Apple iPhone SE is meant for India, but preferred by developed markets instead!

It is also known that the iPhone has been flying off store shelves in the US and is already hit there. But the irony, it turns out, was that the device meant for the emerging markets such as China and India seems to be doing rather well in the developed markets. We do see China in the graph somewhere at a mere 0.2 percent, but what about India?

The smartphone being a big hit in developed nations doesn't come as surprise. Unlike India, the device price isn't as much a bone of contention in the US or the UK as the device is usually tied to a carrier. With a majority of users owning an iPhone, opting for an upgrade via carriers is an easy task. The unlocked device priced at $499 or Rs 33,000 (known to have gone out of stock quickly) also seemed like a good deal to many, especially those hordes of users owning the iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c, and had not opted for an upgrade so far probably due to lack of love for a bigger display. Yes, Apple has its target audience in mind. And to deal with the losing battle ground owning to smaller display size, there's the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.

On the other hand, India is a unique market, and the onslaught of Chinese vendors has made it even more difficult for Apple's pricing being accepted here. The 16GB iPhone SE sells at Rs 39,999, and for a price sensitive, value-for-money Indian market, it again boils down to other way cheaper options that offer what the iPhone SE (leave aside the software) has and even more at a lower price. Needless to say, those willing to pay anything in the price bracket over Rs 45,000 would obviously go for the latest iPhone 6s.

We spoke to a few Mumbai-based retailers about the sale of the iPhone SE. While a Dadar-based retailer said the iPhone SE is his top selling device with a lot of enquirers trickling in about the device. He claims to have sold 20-30 units so far, and said people preferred the 'cheaper' 16GB unit. On the other hand, another retailer said that he doesn't have the device in stock, but could get one if  needed. He claimed there hasn't been any customer inquiry for the iPhone SE yet.

Image: Quartz

Image: Quartz

This is also not surprising as a recent Quartz report points out how Apple takes the 10th spot when it comes to knowing phone brands or brand awareness in India. While Apple may be considered a status symbol in Indian metros, it is still a lesser-known brand in other regions of the country, which are dominated by Android devices.

But India still stands of great importance to Apple, just like for other companies such as Google and Facebook, as it is said to be treading the same path as China. In fact, clearly drawing parallels, the report shows how Indian market today is just as we saw the China market roughly 5-6 years ago. Some of the highlights pointed out by the report are 92 million smartphones were shipped in China in 2011 and India saw 104 million shipments in 2015.

Citing a Morgan Stanley survey, the Quartz report adds 4.6% of Chinese users owned an iPhone in 2009 while 4 percent Indians own the device in 2016. Obviously, going by the trend, Apple is slikely to experience the same success in India.

All of this shows how Apple is preparing to slowly enter the Indian market,but without losing its premium, high-priced label. As a stepping stone, the company is also reportedly all set to launch its first retail store here. However, considering the current dynamics, Apple may need a lot more than retail stores and brand recognition.

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