On paper it doesn’t come as a surprise to see Apple being the market leader in the premium segment as the iPhone holds a tremendous amount of aspirational value. There are those buyers who simply won’t be swayed by the allure of competition — primarily OnePlus and Samsung — and then there are those buyers who find an iPhone to be the ultimate aspirational smartphone. This, however, is on paper and as we all know reality is quite different.
However, it is the price of iPhones that deters most buyers in the second category to opt for Apple. Considering when OnePlus — which had been the premium market leader for a long time — makes really good premium phones and sells them at almost half the price of an iPhone. Things changed in the last 8 months or so — both for Apple and OnePlus.
Apple seems to have got its pricing ‘right’ in the country
India remains a tough nut to crack and no one perhaps knows it better than Apple. The one change came in September 2018 when Apple launched an ‘affordable’ iPhone called the iPhone XR. It wasn’t affordable though as it came at a starting price of Rs 76,900 — back then it was more than double the price of the OnePlus phones. A few months after its launch, Apple unofficially dropped the price of the iPhone XR and one could get it for as low as Rs 53,000. Crucially, this was also the time when OnePlus slightly deviated from its strategy and launched ‘Pro’ series of phones that were priced close to or more than Rs 50,000.
Suddenly, the price gap between iPhone XR and OnePlus phones wasn’t that big. The price drop helped Apple and the testament to XR’s success lied once again in an IDC report. In the quarter ending of June 30, Apple had 41.2% of market share in the premium market and this was down to the price correction.
Enter iPhone 11 with the right pricing
The 2019 September launch of iPhones was crucial for Apple as worldwide there was this perception building about Apple getting it wrong with its pricing and perhaps in terms of the entire value proposition. Apple didn’t alter its pricing strategy with the new iPhone 11 Pro series and has certainly made really good phones. But the vital cog in the Appel wheel is the iPhone 11, especially in India. Launched at starting price of Rs 64,900, the iPhone 11 is the one phone that really stands out as it boasts of almost every second feature found in the more expensive iPhones. This also comes at a time when the most expensive OnePlus phone (the 7T McLaren edition) costs Rs 58,900 and at this cost one can snag an iPhone 11 quite easily with deals and offers. IDC attributes the ‘return’ of Apple “on the back of affordability offers and price drops on previous generation models like the iPhone XR, iPhone 8 and iPhone 7 (128GB), along with the newly launched iPhone 11/Pro series.”
With great cameras, powerful processors and a certain level of aspiration value, Apple may just have pressed all the right buttons with the iPhone in India. On top of all this, Apple has been making a huge push for privacy and security that iPhone and iOS 13 bring with them, which may have been another factor for its growth. With more iPhones being made locally and the first Apple Store in India on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how Apple manages to sustain the momentum in India.