Hoping for growth, Apple takes a different tack in India

Apple is reportedly making some big changes to its iPhone sales strategy in India with the aim of growing its share.

Apple's iPhone 5.
Apple's iPhone 5. CNET

Apple is reportedly on the verge of changing up its iPhone sales strategy in India to bolster sales in the region.

Citing a source familiar with Apple's strategy there, The Wall Street Journal says Apple plans to open up distribution of its iPhone to a considerably larger network of sales partners, all with the aim of making the device available outside of direct sales by local carriers.

The big reason for all this? Apple's iPhone footprint in India is a tiny, and actually on the decline. The Journal points to data from IDC that shows Apple garnered just 1.2 percent of handset sales in the region between April and June of this year, a number that pales in comparison to growth seen by rivals, though mainly Samsung.

One explanation offered by the Apple CEO Tim Cook during on an earnings conference call in July is that there's complexity in distributing products within the country, something that brings extra costs to the equation.

Apple does not yet sell the iPhone 5 in India, though is rumored to be coming later this month. The Journal adds that the device is expected to sell for the local equivalent of about $854 and up.

India is expected to become a key battleground for smartphone makers in the coming years. According to research from Cybermedia, smartphone sales grew 87 percent between 2010 and 2011, and during last year 11.2 million smartphones shipped in the region. That tally is expected to nearly double to 20 million for 2012, the firm said in a research note earlier this year.

Nonetheless, smartphones are not the main type of phone Indian consumers are buying, the Journal notes. Citing data from IDC, about 70 percent of the estimated 220 million handsets sold in the region in 2012 cost less than $100, putting the iPhone out of reach for many.

Updated at 2:16 p.m. to correct error in headline.

 

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