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The iPhone is struggling in India

Despite a charm offensive in the mega-populous nation, Apple's latest results show a marked drop in sales.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Despite a big effort in the last year to gain more ground in India, new sales figures indicate Apple's strategy isn't working in the world's second most populous country.

The Cupertino, California-based giant sold around 35 percent fewer iPhones in India in the second quarter of 2016 than it had during the same period last year, according to Strategy Analytics. The numbers are low despite the launch of the cheaper iPhone SE in the country earlier this year.

The marketing research firm says Apple sold only 800,000 units in April, May and June. It sold 1.2 million units in the same months of 2015.

While the iPhone maker struggles to move inventory in India, Strategy Analytics says Android is on pace to capture the entire market. Google's rival mobile operating system accounted for 97 percent of the smartphone market in India during the second quarter of 2016, up from 90 percent during the same period last year.

Though Apple has increasingly focused on India in the past few months, it's not easy selling premium phones in a country where the vast majority of mobiles sold are priced under $150. It will need to reduce iPhone pricing to "cheaper levels" if it wants to take significant market share in the country, said Woody Oh, director at Strategy Analytics.

Apple wants to sell refurbished iPhones in India, as a way of reducing the cost of its range, but has hit a roadblock. The Indian government has cut the company some slack over setting up Apple Stores, however, which will allow Apple to save money by cutting out middlemen and increase its brand awareness.

Apple was contacted for comment but did not immediately respond.