iPhone sales have rocketed in India, one of the fastest-growing tech markets in the world, after Apple instituted a series of rebates and interest-free payment programmes to tempt budget-minded consumers.
Apple's iPhone remains a minority choice in a market still dominated by low-end handsets - the iPhone has a market share by sales of around 3 percent, although its share is higher (nearly 16 percent) when measured by revenue - but aggressive sales strategies, coupled perhaps with the more gradual increase in consumer spending power in the economically burgeoning nation, are bringing Apple's smartphones within the reach of a larger number of Indian customers.
The Economic Times of India reports that Apple previously saw monthly iPhone sales of 70,000 to 80,000 on average, but has seen that jump to almost 400,000 since bringing in new pricing strategies this year. Apple doesn't reveal these sales figures itself, however, so these are based on analyst estimates. "Our discussions with handset retailers indicated that iPhone sales went up 3 to 4 times," said Credit Suisse research analyst Sunil Tirumalai, but as the figures above indicate, the true increase could be even higher.
Apple now offers India consumers EMI (equal monthly instalments) schemes on new iPhones, so a cash-strapped buyer can spread the cost of their new handset across several months. It's interest-free, which represents an effective discount of "4 to 9 percent", according to Tirumalai.
Apple also offers a cash discount of 18 percent on the iPhone 4, and began a scheme of trade-in rebates in May. The combination of these various deals makes older iPhone models affordable to many - a fact that has been rammed home by an aggressive advertising compaign.
Targeting the growing markets
You may have grown tired, as we have, of the frequent demands for Apple to launch a budget iPhone so that it can explot the growing demand for technology in the new economic powerhouses, where spending power is on the up but poverty is still widespread: China, India, Brazil. Within a few decades the vast majority of technology buying will centre on these markets.
The problem with the budget iPhone concept was always that it represented compromise, which is anathema to Apple and to Apple's carefully cultivated public image as a product perfectionist. Apple fans expect a smartphone that is beautifully constructed from the best materials and, if not the most powerful components available, at the very least a smooth, fast user experience.
Apple seems to have found a better answer: sell iPhones that are a couple of generations old, price them aggressively, make sure consumers are well aware that they can actually afford them, and introduce a massive new market to the joys of iOS.