Apple’s upcoming iPhone could play a key role in company’s India growth

NEW DELHI: Apple is set to host its latest launch event on 8 March where it is expected to launch a new ‘budget’ iPhone and MacBook Air among other products. Ahead of the launch, experts opine that while the upcoming iPhone may cost more than recent expectations, it could still be an important factor in the company’s sales in India through 2022.

The budget iPhone in question belongs to Apple’s ‘SE’ line-up of devices. The latter was first introduced in 2016, and gives users an entry point into Apple’s iOS ecosystem at a significantly lesser price point than its flagship iPhones. The iPhone SE line-up uses the company’s latest generation mobile processor, but typically features older designs and a comparatively basic overall feature set.

This year, Apple is expected to launch the third iPhone SE, succeeding the one launched in 2020, which played a key role in Apple’s record shipments in India in 2021.

According to a market report by Counterpoint Research in February, Apple’s shipments in India doubled in 2021 to reach a record 6 million units in the year. Tarun Pathak, research director at Counterpoint said at the time, that the company’s shipments could further grow by 25 percent through 2022 – outpacing the overall smartphone market growth in India.

To be sure, Apple’s shipments nearly doubled through 2021, while the rest of India’s smartphone industry’s overall shipments grew 11% through the year. Xiaomi, the market leader in India, saw a 2% growth in its shipments, while Samsung, the second largest smartphone seller in India, saw its shipments decline 8% year-on-year in 2021.

Navkendar Singh, research director at IDC India, said iPhone SE’s sales in 2021 were driven by factors like the covid-19 lockdowns, and highly competitive limited-period pricing that brought the cost of the 2020 iPhone SE down to around 25,000. “Just like the one before, the upcoming iPhone SE is also likely to be priced at around 40,000, and not near the 20,000 mark that has been speculated,” he said.

Singh added that the iPhone SE (2022) – or iPhone SE 3 – is likely to continue seeing demand among students, or those who aspire to own an Apple device without paying the lofty price tag of its flagship phones. “The festive season is still a few months away, which is when the new iPhone SE may get offers and discounts, and the supplies should also increase by then. The device may do well through the year, as a result,” he said.

However, he noted that the iPhone SE is unlikely to eat into the market share of those buying similarly-priced Android devices. “The iPhone SE is dated in terms of its feature set, so the typical buyer looking at a OnePlus device is most likely not going to consider it,” he noted.

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