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Apple cuts prices on iPhone 6S in India to revive sales -- report

India is the most expensive region to buy the new iPhones, so Apple has apparently decided to earn a bit less on each phone in hopes of boosting sales.

Apple has reportedly cut prices on its latest iPhones in India.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple has trimmed the prices of its newest iPhones in a country where their cost is beyond the reach of most consumers, according to a news report.

The company has lowered prices on its iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus by up to 16 percent in India as demand for the devices fell following their launch in October, the India-based Economic Times reported Monday.

The 16GB iPhone 6S now sells for 52,000 to 55,000 rupees ($784 to $830), down from 62,000 rupees ($935) two months ago, four large retailers told the Economic Times. The price cuts extend to all models and capacities.

Apple apparently needs to be more price competitive in India, the world's third largest smartphone market behind China and the US. Indian consumers typically gravitate toward phones priced under $300, such as those made by Chinese vendor Xiaomi and local brand Micromax. Apple has been grappling with weaker demand for its iPhone 6S lineup in India and just a 2 percent market share as chief rival Samsung leads the field with lower-cost phones manufactured in the country.

With a population of more than 1.2 billion people, India is a critical battleground for smartphone makers. It became the world's fastest growing smartphone market last year, research firm IDC said in November 2014. India is expected to surpass the US as the world's second-largest smartphone market behind China in 2017, Strategy Analytics said in July. It has also been the most expensive place in the world to buy an iPhone.

"Anything above 60,000 rupees is way out of reach for even an average rich urban consumer," Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Research, told CNET in October.

The higher prices have not only dissuaded new iPhone buyers in India. A large difference in price between the iPhone 6 and the iPhones 6S has discouraged existing owners from upgrading, a senior executive of one retailer told the Economic Times. Apple has also slashed the price on the iPhone 5S, bringing its cost down to almost half of what it was this past September.

Will the price cuts be enough to boost demand for the iPhones 6S and 6S Plus? One analyst thinks so.

"Now that they have aligned prices, we can see some sales happening in future quarters, which will also sustain Apple in the typically weaker periods of January to September," Tarun Pathak, senior analyst at Counterpoint Technology, told the Times.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.