GOOGLE TO ALSO REPEAT APPLE’S MISTAKE IN INDIA

The article’s Hindi version appeared on iChowk.

Google has launched its much talked about range of Pixel smartphones. Pixel smartphones will be available in two sizes – Pixel and Pixel XL. The phones are open for pre-order booking in US, UK, Germany, Canada and Australia. Other markets will follow. In India, Pixel will be available for pre-order on October 13.

Pixel is the first serious challenge for Apple from Google in the smartphone hardware, the segment that has made Apple the most valuable company globally. Two-third of Apple’s profit comes from iPhone. Pixel has been designed and produced by Google and Google is publicizing it with ‘Made By Google’ tag (there is a website as well – https://madeby.google.com/intl/en_in/phone/) while Google’s earlier trysts with smartphone hardware, i.e., Motorola’s acquisition and Nexus outsourcing, were basically experimental platforms to fine-tune its operating system Android, now the world’s most used OS. They were never in race with iPhone for any slot.

pixel-madebygoogle

But now Google is going to repeat the same mistake which Apple has done.

iPhone is globally the most profitable phone brand and Apple is in Indian market for a long time now yet sale of Apple products including iPhone and Apple revenue in India is still 1% of its global performance.

The reason is its elitist (read absurd) pricing which is totally out of place in a price-sensitive market like India. The most premium and high-end smartphones in India are available in the range of Rs. 50,000-60,000 but if we see the overall picture, Rs. 10,000-30,000 is the most in-demand range for smartphones here whereas iPhone’s range for its latest offering (iPhone7) starts at Rs. 60,000 and goes upto Rs. 92,000.

This is in a country where the per capita income in 2015-16 was still Rs. 7774.

Now that Apple is seeing decline in iPhone sales in its growth driver China and stagnation in its other developed markets like US, UK or Europe, it needs a market like India, the world’s second biggest smartphone market. But Apple can never succeed in India at this price-range. Apple still wants to maintain iPhone’s ‘super-pricey’ tag in the Indian market. While that can sustain iPhone’s image of being a luxury brand, it will never allow Apple to become a big market player here.

And now Google is going to adopt the similar branding mantra.

Google Pixel starts at Rs. 57,000 in India and goes up to Rs. 76,000. We can only expect that Google Pixel will become another iPhone at this unjustifiably high price-range in India although cracking the Indian market is more imperative for Google than Apple.

Except India, Apple’s iPhone is the biggest brand in US, China and every other big market and earns maximum profit even if its market-share on unit shipments may not be the largest one in many markets. So, Apple commands a premium return. Now, Google will have to face Apple and other established brands including Samsung, the largest selling cellphone brand globally, in these markets. As Apple has a nearly non-existent presence in India, the country can be the big opportunity for Google to start on a solid base that it needs to take on Apple globally. And Google’s strong brand perception can come handy here.

Google is among the most valuable and strong brands. We can gauge its brand prowess by the fact that internet search has become synonymous with the term ‘google or googling’ and we should not be surprised if the term gets dictionary space in future. Its OS Android has 97% market-share in India – an absolute domination that tells us that almost every smartphone in India uses Android as its OS. So Google has already this software ecosystem advantage in the Indian market but given the price-range that it has chosen for its Pixel range of phones, it is never going to succeed on the hardware front. It is never going to get those volumes that any new business venture needs.

According to a report by Counterpoint Research, India has 220 million smartphone users and the Indian smartphone market has become the world’s second largest leaving behind the US market. But if we see the population penetration here, it is still at around 20% of the overall mobile subscription base in the country that is at 1.1 billion. From feature phones to smartphones – with a faster growth rate – that presents a huge opportunity.

Since India is the fastest growing smartphone market with 17% growth rate that is projected to increase further and its overall mobile subscription base is projected to reach at 1.4 billion by 2021 and as Indians are expected to buy around 150 million smartphones this year, Apple or Google or any other company can ignore the Indian market at its own peril. If Samsung and other companies have been able to crack the Indian market, it is because they have kept its price sensitivity on top of their marketing strategy – launching models and variants at every price point.

©SantoshChaubey

APPLE’S PARCHED ORCHARD IN INDIA

Does Apple’s presence and the subsequent marketing strategy make any sense in India?

No!

Few months ago, when Apple CEO Tim Cook was in India, he stressed that Apple is betting big on India and is preparing for the day when India would become the next China of the smartphone revolution. He said that India is at same juncture in telecom revolution where China was some 7 to 10 years ago.

Yes, India is going to be the next big thing in telecom after America and China. It has already replaced America as the market having second largest smartphone user base. And since it has immense untapped potential, it is going to be the darling of whole world, including companies from America and China – either for hardware or software.

India’s smartphone user base is at 220 million while the number of mobile subscriptions in the country has reached to 1.1 billion is expected to scale up to 1.4 billion by 2021. Going by the base 220 million smartphone users, the smartphone penetration in India is still at 20% of the overall mobile phone subscription.

So, that is huge..huge opportunity.

Smartphone shipments to India grew at over 20% the last year. This year, India is expected to buy around 150 million smartphones. According to some estimates, the smartphone bases is projected to cross 700 million mark by 2020. It may be even faster than that as technological advancements are on the verge of making Indian telecom a data driven market. Smartphone prices are rapidly coming down, especially of 4G and LTE enabled devices. And as the Indian government is betting big on smartphones to drive its digital governance plan, it is just waiting to happen.

Now if Tim Cook sees India market where Chinese telecom sector was some 7 to 10 years ago, that would be, but India may bridge this gap much sooner than he would have calculated. It may be by 2019 or 2020.

Since Apple went on to increase falling prices of its iphone 6, 6S and 5S to further beef up its luxury brand perception and has launched iPhone 7 at the same price points, from Rs. 60,000 to Rs. 92,000, it seems Apple and Tim Cook have miscalculated the time when India would be finally ready to take off, as was the case with China.

Indian smartphone market has already taken off. Most of the new and replacement mobile phones are going to be smartphones as data prices have come crushingly low with the entry of a new operator, Reliance Jio, that has announced to charge only for data (and not for voice).

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey 

HOW BLACKBERRY LOST THE PLOT

BlackBerry, once the darling of Canada, America and the corporate world elsewhere (including India) has declared that it would not be making smartphones anymore. The company said it would now focus on its software business and would outsource the handset manufacturing requirements. So if a new BlackBerry handset comes in the market, it would, per se, be not a BlackBerry – because BlackBerry was always a package deal. Its success was steered as much by its communication software as it was by its niche smartphones that made it a ‘must have’ for the corporate world.

BlackBerry also died in the wave that came with iPhone, Samsung phones and Android iOS, like Nokia, though the basics were different.

BlackBerry was always a smartphone company with its encrypted software solutions that made it a must have gadget for the corporate honchos, but something that ultimately became its nemesis. Communication is the mainstay of any business operation and BlackBerry targeted it. The strategy paid rich dividends initially. Its parent company, Research In Motion’s (RIM) shares zoomed to an all time high in 2008 and Fortune had declared RIM as the fastest growing tech company in 2009.

But that was it. It was a rapid decline after it.

The corporate and enterprise focus that had brought glory to BlackBerry soon became a black-hole for it that made every attempt to redo its strategies void – because the company was still roaming in the wilderness of mobile phone devices with efficient messaging and communication platforms (but not beyond it) while the new entrants were rapidly ramping up the mobile phone marketplace with handheld computing devices that would act as all-serving entertainment hubs – be it messaging or emails or chats or complete web browsing or a never ending app ecosystem fuelling further interest and engagement.

BlackBerry saw corporate consumers and enterprises as its base while companies like Apple, Samsung and Google saw consumers in everyone – be it a business leader or a politician or a celebrity or a common man. And their product offerings were designed keeping them in mind. They were able to cater to every class of consumer. So when a CEO found that an iPhone or a Samsung phone with Android iOS could have provided the comfort of communication that a BlackBerry device would provide and at the same time would also act as a handheld computing device offering a world of entertainment, he immediately switched to it. And BlackBerry’s fall shows it, indeed, was the case.

So, the company that was the fastest growing tech company of 2009, was sold for less than $5 Billion in 2013 and it still hovering in the range of a market cap of $5 Billion – a meteoric fall from a high of $83 Billion worth of market cap.

Though BlackBerry was a masterly combination of hardware and software, like Nokia, it failed to read the pulse of the market. Like Nokia, by the time BlackBerry realized where it erred, it had become too late. Nokia failed to move on from feature phones to smartphones while BlackBerry failed to move on from corporate-centric smartphones to people-centric handheld entertainment hubs. It clung to its trademark Qwerty smartphones too long, compromising on screen size and touch function, features that were going to be the next common in the smartphone market. By the time BlackBerry launched its first full touch-screen smartphone, it had become too late and BlackBerry’s move was seen as nothing but a poor Apple imitation attempt.

©SantoshChaubey

HOW NOKIA LOST THE PLOT

It was in November 2014 when the Nokia CEO officially announced that Nokia would not be making cellphones anymore. Though it didn’t happen globally and Microsoft bought Nokia, the brand could not be revived. Microsoft experimented with Nokia, first as Nokia, then as Lumia. It also tried a layered formula – Nokia for feature phones and Lumia for smartphones.

The catch was to develop a cellphone OS version of the world’s most successful computer OS, Microsoft’s Windows. Two years down the line, now there is a very real possibility that Microsoft would soon issue the official line that is shutting down its phone making operations.

Nokia was the global handset leader for 14 years till April 2014 when Samsung outdid it becoming the world’s largest handset maker. Since then it is all the Samsung and Apple. In fact, Apple’s entry in the smartphone market in 2007 was the beginning of the end for Nokia. Apple saw a meteoric rise. And so Samsung who rode the Android wave with Google, the most innovative of the tech giants, launching first Android OS (Android 1.0) in September 2008.

So, Apple had finesse and panache and Samsung had versatility of Android, but Nokia had none.

When the road ahead was clearly going to be smartphoned, Nokia was still banking on its feature phones. It didn’t develop fast and beautiful products like iPhone and iOS or versatile products like Samsung’s smartphone range or Google iOS.

By the time it realized its fault, the damage was already done and any chance to recovery was beyond any threshold of redemption. Android was free for everyone but Nokia failed to see the opportunity even if its Symbian OS with shabby and unacceptable apps looked archaic in front of iOS and Android – functionally as well as aesthetically.

Now, in 2016, Apple is the most profitable cellphone maker. Google’s Android is the most widely used OS. And Samsung is still the largest cellphone maker by volumes of sale and shipment.

While Nokia is still looking for some lease of life, this time trying to collaborate with a Finnish business outfit that will manufacture the Nokia brand cellphones and Nokia will get royalty.

©SantoshChaubey

HOW NOKIA AND BLACKBERRY GOT IT ALL WRONG

It was in November 2014 when the Nokia CEO officially announced that Nokia would not be making cellphones anymore. Though it didn’t happen globally and Microsoft bought Nokia, the brand could not be revived. Microsoft experimented with Nokia, first as Nokia, then as Lumia. It also tried a layered formula – Nokia for feature phones and Lumia for smartphones.

The catch was to develop a cellphone OS version of the world’s most successful computer OS, Microsoft’s Windows. Two years down the line, now there is a very real possibility that Microsoft would soon issue the official line that is shutting down its phone making operations.

Nokia was the global handset leader for 14 years till April 2014 when Samsung outdid it becoming the world’s largest handset maker. Since then it is all the Samsung and Apple. In fact, Apple’s entry in the smartphone market in 2007 was the beginning of the end for Nokia. Apple saw a meteoric rise. And so Samsung who rode the Android wave with Google, the most innovative of the tech giants, launching first Android OS (Android 1.0) in September 2008.

So, Apple had finesse and panache and Samsung had versatility of Android, but Nokia had none.

When the road ahead was clearly going to be smartphoned, Nokia was still banking on its feature phones. It didn’t develop fast and beautiful products like iPhone and iOS or versatile products like Samsung’s smartphone range or Google iOS.

By the time it realized its fault, the damage was already done and any chance to recovery was beyond any threshold of redemption. Android was free for everyone but Nokia failed to see the opportunity even if its Symbian OS with shabby and unacceptable apps looked archaic in front of iOS and Android – functionally as well as aesthetically.

Now, in 2016, Apple is the most profitable cellphone maker. Google’s Android is the most widely used OS. And Samsung is still the largest cellphone maker by volumes of sale and shipment.

While Nokia is still looking for some lease of life, this time trying to collaborate with a Finnish business outfit that will manufacture the Nokia brand cellphones and Nokia will get royalty.

Today brought another news of another mobile phone world leader of its time going out of the business.

BlackBerry, once the darling of Canada, America and the corporate world elsewhere (including India) today declared that it would not be making smartphones anymore. The company said it would now focus on its software business and would outsource the handset manufacturing requirements.

BlackBerry also died in the wave that came with iPhone, Samsung phones and Android iOS though the basics were different. BlackBerry was always a smartphone company with its encrypted software solutions that made it a must have gadget for the corporate honchos, something that ultimately became its nemesis. Communication is the mainstay of any business and BlackBerry targeted it. The strategy paid rich dividends initially. Its parent company, Research In Motion’s (RIM) share zoomed to an all time high in 2008 and Fortune had declared RIM as the fastest growing tech company in 2009.

But that was it.

The corporate and enterprise focus that had brought glory to BlackBerry, soon became a black-hole for it that made every attempt to redo its strategies void – because the company was still roaming in the wilderness of mobile phone devices with efficient messaging and communication platforms while the new entrants were rapidly ramping up the mobile phone market to handheld computing devices that would act as all-serving entertainment hubs – be it messaging or emails or chats or complete web browsing or a never ending app ecosystem fuelling interest and engagement.

BlackBerry saw corporate consumers and enterprises as its base while companies like Apple, Samsung and Google saw consumers in everyone – be it a business leader or a politician or a celebrity or a common man. And their product offerings were designed keeping them in mind. They were able to cater to every class of consumer. So when a CEO found that an iPhone or a Samsung phone with Android iOS could have provided the comfort of communication that a BlackBerry device would provide and at the same time, would also act as a handheld computing device offering a world of entertainment, he immediately switched to it. And BlackBerry’s fall shows it, indeed, was the case.

So, the company that was the fastest growing tech company of 2009, was sold for less than $5 Billion in 2013 and it still hovering in the range of a market cap of $5 Billion – a meteoric fall from a high of $83 Billion worth of market cap.

Though BlackBerry was a masterly combination of hardware and software, like Nokia, it failed to read the pulse of the market. Like Nokia, by the time BlackBerry realized where it erred, it had become too late. Nokia failed to move on from feature phones to smartphones while BlackBerry failed to move on from corporate-centric smartphones to people-centric handheld entertainment hubs.

nokia-blackberry-sept28

Featured Image Courtesy: Screenshots collage from BlackBerry and Nokia websites

©SantoshChaubey

WHAT MAKES AN IPHONE LAUNCH SUCH A BIG DRAW

The article originally appeared on DailyO.

The next iPhone launch date is finally out. It is going to be September 7. The press invite and the Apple website say so. We cannot say it will be named iPhone 7 because the iPhone rumour mill has thrown iPhone 6SE as well as the next in the series.

With this announcement, the public and the media frenzy that begins months before the next iPhone is launched in September will see its deafening levels that will see its culmination on September 7, the launch day.

This year it is expected to be even more varied and louder a chatter as iPhone just saw its first decline in its quarterly sales figures since its first launch and so there are speculations that iPhone would come with something blockbuster – like its form, thickness, interface, an all glass body, even its audio jack, and so on. iPhone is still the undisputed smartphone leader globally but that tag may come under threat unless it doesn’t offer something that is gamechanger, that iPhone was when it was first lunched or iPad or iPod, and not the incremental stuff that most of the iPhone launches have been.

The Apple profit basket shrunk, for the first time in Apple’s last 13 years, after 2003, in the quarterly financial results announced in April 2016. It was driven by a massive drop in iPhone sales – the first time ever in the iPhone history. And it was massive – 10 million units – from 61 to 51 million units a year ago. The Apple story since 2007 is the iPhone story – the smartphone that took the world by storm – registering stupendous growth year-over-year – from 3.7 million units in 2007 to 231 million units in 2015 – that is staggering over 600%. In fact the world’s biggest listed company is solely dependent on iPhone for two thirds of its revenue. iPhone has made Apple the biggest corporation on Earth.

So, there are much higher stakes involved this time and accordingly would be the chatter. We can gauge this from even the intense speculation level on the launch date. Media outlets, Apple watchers, bloggers, consultants and experts burnt their midnight oil in speculating (with assertion) that September 9 would see the next iPhone launch like the last year; someone said it would be September 16; someone else said the next big Apple launch event will be held on September 29. Forbes said as latest as on August 26 that the next iPhone was going to launch on September 9 while Fortune had confirmed September 16 as the launch date as early as in July.

APPLE IS DIFFERENT AND STEVE JOBS WAS DIFFERENT

No communication professional can ignore the massive global appeal that each iPhone launch generates. The extent of coverage that it gets is beyond the organizing capacity of any public relations agency or groups of marketing communication professionals. What Steve Jobs gave to the world is a must case study for every communication expert to deliberate on ‘how iPhone became a global brand with its single brand revenue surpassing overall turnovers of tech companies like Microsoft or IBM’.

Globally or nationally (even here in India), the Apple event to launch the next iPhone is expected to be the top trend of September 7, 2016 and the intervening one week will see intense activity on chatter platforms. Going by the precedent, the event is likely to figure in the top trends on many social media sites. What Steve Jobs gave to this world, a product that was elegant in its beauty, smart in its operations, blockbuster in its innovations and premium in brand visibility – took the world by storm.

Apple is different and Steve Jobs was different – for the way they both created a visible brand perception around the world – something that we can sum up as an ultimate realization of beauty and brain – something unheard of before Apple brings its products – yes that has been the unique hallmark of Apple making its products since Macintosh in 1984 stand out in the market – creating a cult following – that reached to phenomenal levels since the iPhone launch in 2007. What added to it was the personal touch given to the product and its launch event by Steve Jobs.

Apple knows that it has such a strong brand cult that people like to identify with every product because they believe if it is Apple, it will be a quality product that would define the category. It gives Apple executives, first Steve Jobs and now Tim Cook, opportunity to focus solely on the human interface, on telling how the next iPhone is going to be even more user friendly while launching every next iPhone at it favourite arena – the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. It has been the highlight of every iPhone launch event that it is people centric and not product centric. Apple shuts down its online store before the launch event to keep people across the world glued to the event only.

Result! Millions of iPhone are pre-ordered within 24 hours after booking is opened. Some 4.5 million iPhone 6S and 6S Plus units were pre-ordered in the first 24 hours and the first week shipment figures zoomed past 10 million units mark. The pre-order figure for 2014 launch stood at around 4 million units and the other launched have followed the suit.

IPHONE7EVENT

Next iPhone Launch Event Invite as Displayed on Apple’s Website

BRAND POWER – THE INTENSE BUZZ

The iPhone launch event is top ranked trend on every social media platform across the globe. The September 9, 2015 launch event to introduce iPhone 6 and 6S Plus was a top Twitter trend globally that shows how intense it becomes when it comes to final hours of iPhone launch event. News channels go live with the event in the most of the countries.

Twitter and Facebook generate an intense buzz of opinions/voices. Twitter has now become the global storehouse of #hashtags (of news and opinion) on any ongoing breaking development. Globally, in worldwide trends, the event with hashtag #AppleEvent was on top. The top 10 list had two other ‘iPhone tags’– iOS 9 and iPhone. It was on top and in top 10 in almost every major market from across the world – the US, the UK, Dubai, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. The hashtag #AppleEvent was on top even in India where Apple has a dismal market share of around 2 percent only. Almost similar trends were visible on Twitter pages for trending events in different countries.

iPhone, in fact, has become one of the most suitable example of our times on ‘how brands can affect campaigns/public relations exercises around them’. And when the world says that iPhone alone earns more in revenue than overall turnout of its nearest competitor, it sums up the central point about the brand in one word – perfect.

iPhone is the perfect brand to weave any communication package around it and like any ‘perfect’ brand, Apple doesn’t put much effort on the ‘promotion front’. Though its ad spend was around US$ 1.8 billion last year, nothing much is known about its public relations/corporate communications expenditure because most of it is self generated – by the world outside the company – the world inhabited by media outlets, analysts, enthusiasts and sophomores of the virtual/online world and people across the world. When Apple launches an iPhone the world talks about it. Apple telecasts the event live and whole world catches every bit of it – the world inhabited, again, by iPhone enthusiasts, media outlets and analysts.

In fact, the word around the next iphone starts doing rounds just few months after the launch event and reaches to the deafening levels as the traditional annual launch date in September nears. The fever built up the aura, like it always happens. And it generates tons of good words, volumes of media spaces and millions worth in PR and marketing exercises. Companies, big or small, always vie for some good, solid public relations visibility that enhances the soft appeal of a brand. News carriers and people talking every bit associated with a product is a dream that every brand aspires to have. With Apple, it is the other way round. Big and small, every media outlet is always ready to catch any buzzword related to Apple launch events, especially when it is iPhone.

©SantoshChaubey

AFTER AMAZON, SNAPDEAL DOES THE SAME!

So here I am again.

A week after writing my previous two articles on logistical operations at Amazon India.

The first was on my embarrassing experience with Amazon India’s logistics arrangements with its ‘subscribe and save’ category.

The second one was on how no one from Amazon, Amazon India and Jeff Bezos responded to my articles even if I tagged them on Twitter and posted the same on Amazon’s Facebook extensions.

You can find those articles on the hyperlinked words above.

The second article I had written on May 29. So its eight days to that development now and no response so far has come from Amazon.

Meanwhile, I have had a similar experience with Snapdeal to add to the developing contours of my writings on this subject.

And irrespective of whether I get response or not, I would again tag Amazon (and this time Snapdeal also) and their bosses to see if they respond now.

Additionally, I am sending a questionnaire to some professors of Supply Chain Management to understand the logic behind this mode of delivery on the most important aspect of any E-commerce business – its logistics operations.

To understand how duplication (and thus wastage) of resources (including manpower hours) is justified by sending multiple items of a same order on different days! It has been like – one order, one day – at a time. Whenever it has been like more than two products were delivered on a same day, these were by different people.

Amazon-Snapdeal

The same routine is being repeated even this month – that I wrote and complained about last month.

There has been no change.

To make my points more reflective, I tried this today – I measured size of the cartons and the products they carried. To put my point here, I am attaching a collage photograph of the products delivered from Amazon and Snapdeal.

What is interesting here that Amazon delivered two products of similar dimensions – Colin and Lifebuoy Handwash, that you can see in the photograph – in different cartons. The box size was 38*32 cms. The products dimensions were 28*15 cms and 28*9 cms. So, both products should have been delivered in the same carton. That would have saved a box – with all its packaging material, the inventory space that the raw material for it took and the cost it incurred.

Imagine the scale of wastage if the same is repeated with millions of products!

Similar experience was there in store by Snapdeal.

I had placed an order for three items – three different products – but all were from the ‘food items’ category. All three were delivered on different dates. One of these orders was for three bottles of jam – strawberry, mango and berry. The three jam bottles of same dimension were packed in different boxes. One of these boxes had its bottle broken and its content was spilled all over. I placed a return order immediately but there has been no update on it and its three days now.

At least Amazon is miles ahead here. The ‘return experience’ has been overwhelmingly good with Amazon India (so far).

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHY HAD TIM COOK COME TO INDIA?

We cannot take that something drove Tim Cook and he took an Indian sojourn just for that.

We cannot say but he is certainly not in the kind of circumstances (and his Indian itinerary suggests this as well), that he would be forced (by his inner call) to look for spiritual solace of Orientalism – like his company’s defining soul, Steve Jobs, had done.

We also cannot say, again based on his entourage, his itinerary and his engagements that he was here, in this country, for a planned or random tourism trip.

But then, how can we take on the face value, the implicit and explicit contours of his long India visit, spread over four days – for the specific purpose of promoting Apple’s business interests in India – given the facts that the sum total of the purpose of his visit was restricted to emphasizing on those very measures which have pushed Apple to the periphery of India’s tech market – including the blockbuster segment of smartphones?

If Apple has just around 2 per cent market segment in India’s smartphone market, projected to be second largest soon (globally), it is Apple’s own doing – with a blind race to establish iPhone as a super-premium model.

And the way Apple decided to do it – was reflective of how it treated India.

First, it would create a false impression of exclusivity by keeping a large market like India in the last rounds of iPhone launch.

Then, it would price iPhone astronomically high, making it, again, an exclusive possession of the very few, even if it was available on lower price points in other markets.

And above all, it tried to dump its old models in India – as if Indians were not able to afford its latest launches. It always sent the message that Apple considered India a market only for its obsolete models – or a market for refurbished iPhones.

When every other company, including Samsung and the Chinese vendors, see India as a market with immense potential and make it a point to announce global launches simultaneously in India. They even launch specific models for the Indian market.

By the time Apple realized where it erred, it had become too late. This long visit by Tim Cook, after the first ever dip in iPhone sales, shows that. Because it came too late.

Or Apple has really realized where it erred?

It doesn’t seem so.

Especially after the indications that we are getting after Tim Cook’s high-flying socializing and strategising stopovers in India.

Reports say the main focus of Tim Cook’s India visit was convincing the Indian government about its refurbished iPhone business and setting up Apple stores without the mandatory 30 per cent local sourcing clause.

These are again shabby and ‘poor in taste’ elements and emphasize Apple’s superiority complex (if I take the liberty to use the term) – the very elements that have pushed Apple to a marketing oblivion in India.

And, if this was really the intent of Tim Cook’s India vision, then it was so poorly thought. While others companies tried to own the Indian market in order to win it, the basic of any marketing strategy, Apple disowned the Indian customer – as if he never figured in the their scheme of things.

But if it was not so – then the million dollar question is – why Tim Cook made this India visit?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

INDIA’S NO TO APPLE’S REFURBISHED PLANS

Apple has received a big jolt to its efforts to capture a dignified share in the Indian smartphone market.

As reported, the Indian government has rejected Apple’s plans to sell refurbished iPhones in India.

Now, selling old iPhone – Apple may see that as a viable strategy, and the company sells refurbished iPhones in some markets including the US

But it was never a good idea to try it in India.

Especially after the fact that Apple has goofed up badly on its India strategy.

And the most direct way to say it is – Apple has not treated India as a dignified market so far.

India, the third largest smartphone market, that would overtake next year Apple’s home market in US, that is now almost saturated, is a priority market for everyone – not just in the telecom segment.

The market with over 1000 million mobile connections but with just 225 million smartphone users is a market with an enormous potential to tap. And it has not happened in a day.

What India is today for telecom players (including cellphone manufactures), China was five years ago. And companies with a major presence in India saw that and have invested significantly here, creating their base.

None of them have undermined India – unlike Apple.

And now Apple is paying the price. Or to say, it is the beginning of the bad phase for the largest corporation of the world.

The US has no growth prospects for iPhone as it has already an absolute domination there. We will see an increasingly hostile China as Chinese companies go global with their smartphone ambitions. In fact, as per the latest data on global shipment of smartphones, three companies out of top five are Chinese – Huawei, Oppo and Vivo – at 3,4, and 5.

That growing realization has forced Apple to now look for a wider presence in India.

But the million dollar question is – can Apple raise its share to a dignified level, from the current 2% – in a market that it thought was not smart enough to appreciate its globe-trotting iPhone?

Apart from a few, majority of the consumers don’t view iPhone positively. For them, buying an iPhone has never been a value proposition, especially when Indian customers see that Apple launches iPhone in India in the last tranche of its shipments, after catering to every other market; especially when they see the same iPhone has been priced much higher in India; and especially when they see other elite smartphones priced much lower and launched at the same time in India as the other markets.

In fact, many who can afford iPhone don’t go for it because its bloated price from them is a sheer waste of money.

Apple intended to establish iPhone as the most premium smartphone brand in India and deliberately kept it out of reach of majority by maintaining price barriers. That sent a message that Apple was never in sync with Indian sensitivities and overlooked the Indian customer.

And Apple cannot replenish its fortunes by sustaining with that strategy.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

APPLE TO IGNORE INDIAN SMARTPHONE MARKET AT ITS OWN PERIL

Apple sales are down, for the first time in 13 years. iPhone shipments are down 16% to 51 million units in the last financial quarter. Sales are down 13% to $50.6 billion. Apple stock is down around 7% wiping out $40 billion in value in a single day when Apple announced its sales data.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, while presenting the figures, reiterated his concerns about saturation in the smartphone market.

And indeed it is happening. The latest report by the market research firm IDC, on April 27, a day after Apple came out with its earnings, shows that the global smartphone market remained almost flat with just 0.2% growth in shipments in the last quarter.

While it concerns every smartphone maker, it should be more worrying for Apple.

Its main market, the US, is near saturation. It growth driver, the China region, saw a whopping 26% decline. And Apple is not even 2% of the market size in the world’s third largest smartphone market, India, despite being in the country for years. Apple has ignored India in a questionable pursuit to establish itself as a premium, upmarket brand, thus missing out on the opportunity to create a solid base in the country.

India is projected to overtake the US next year to become the second largest smartphone market as Morgan Stanley concludes. And the distinction the Indian market has now is while China’s economy is slowing down, India is now the world’s fastest growing market.

Add to it the demographic dividend – according to the Morgan Stanley report, smartphone market in India is still just 18% of its population with 225 million subscribers.

So, there is a huge potential to tap – with the right kind of mix – like an ever increasing base of Middle Class, a fastest growing economy with over 80% tele-density and a young population base. India has already the world’s largest youth population of some 360 million people in 10-24 age-group and the country will be the youngest nation demographically by 2020.

So, all you have to do is to remain there, as a sincere, responsive brand when the growth takes off. And it is happening in the Indian smartphone market now.

Apple is now pushing for its presence in volume segments in India with the recent launch of iPhone SE but it is too little too late, and again, is coupled with a poor insight. In a price conscious market like India, that is projected to be the world’s largest middle class by 2030, no one would go for obsolete versions of iPhones or an exorbitantly priced substandard product, iPhone SE at over $500, when other vendors including Samsung and Chinese entrants are offering world class products at much cheaper price points.

Samsung is present with a flagship product in every pricing segment in the Indian smartphone market while the top-end models of Xiaomi, Gionee, Lenovo, Oppo, Vivo and Micromax, all are priced at around $400.

Apple needs to follow the basics of branding here. Apple needs to earn people’s respect in India. The astronomically priced iPhone is certainly not an exciting prospect for an Indian smartphone user, especially when those with access to the US and other markets can have the gadget for a much lower price.

Samsung, the South Korean behemoth, sits here at the top, with a comfortable margin from its nearest rival, a home grown Indian company, Micromax.

While Apple has failed with its strategy in the Indian market, Samsung has adeptly captured it.

And the fact that Samsung’s top-end smartphones are priced at around $800, near iPnone’s around $900-1000 tag, and that in spite of that they sell well, makes Apple’s marketing strategy in India even more a pathetic case study. Samsung has 24% market share in the smartphone segment in India while Apple is not even 2% and it tells a lot.

India is the market now the world is looking at, for smartphone, or for every other segment the market consumes. Analysts say the Indian smartphone market today is what China was five years ago – with immense potential of growth.

Apple seems to have missed this growth story. And its current marketing strategy in India says the company have learnt nothing from that.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/