Despite comments from Apple CEO Tim Cook last year about India remaining a lower priority than many other emerging markets, a report from Reuters today detailed how Apple is “aggressively pushing” the iPhone in India through payment plans and a new marketing campaign. Cook suggested last year that India wasn’t the biggest international focus for Apple and multi-layer distribution in the country “really adds to the cost of getting products to market.” According to Reuters, on top of an aggressive marketing campaign and payment plans, Apple also aims to increase the distribution channels Cook mentioned last year:
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Apple expanded its India sales effort in the latter half of 2012 by adding two distributors. Previously it sold iPhones only through a few carriers and stores it calls premium resellers. The result: iPhone shipments to India between October and December nearly tripled to 250,000 units from 90,000 in the previous quarter
Many attribute the increasing number of iPhone sales in the country to monthly payment plans recently launched by many resellers of the device. iPhone reseller MobileStore said it tripled sales between December and January with monthly plans, while Reuters noted new iPhone ads in the country highlight the monthly installment price. The monthly installments start around 5,056 rupees ($93)— a significantly more affordable price in a country where a full-priced iPhone 5 is equal to “almost two months’ wages for an entry-level software engineer.”
The new-found interest in India suggests a subtle strategy shift for Apple, which has moved tentatively in emerging markets and has allowed rivals such as Samsung and Blackberry to dominate with more affordable smartphones. With the exception of China, all of its Apple stores are in advanced economies.
During a call with analysts last year, Cook hinted that Apple is focused on markets other than India where the company sees more potential. Today’s report from Reuters signals Apple could be moving to work through some of the distribution issues that Cook described:
“I love India, but I believe that Apple has some higher potential in the intermediate term in some other countries,” Cook said. “The multi-layer distribution there really adds to the cost of getting products to market,” he said at the time.