Apple iPhone’s sales in India grew 50 percent in 2016, while they slumped in China. During an earnings call on Q42016 reports, the company’s CEO Tim Cook said iPhone sales are up in 33 of its top 40 markets.
Cook said he was excited about the positive impact of improved 4G networks on Apple’s business in India. He said India investments would raise sales of iPhones in India at par with China. “We believe we are just beginning to scratch the surface of this large and growing market opportunity,” Cook said.
Reliance Jio is rolling out a first-of-its-kind all-IP network in India with 4G coverage in 18,000 cities and 200,000 villages across the country, he said, adding: “They’re offering a free year of service to purchasers of new iPhones and we’re partnering with them to ensure great iPhone performance on their network.”
Apple is also seen punting on India from the demographic perspective. “I think it is clear that the population of India will exceed China sometime in probably the next decade or so, maybe less than that. I think it will take longer for the GDP to rival it, but that’s not critical for us to have a great success there,” Cook said.
He said it is important to look not only at per capita income in India but also the number of people that are or will move into the middle class over the next decade. “And the age of the population, if you look at India, almost 50% of the population is under 25. And so you have a very, very young population.”
While he said smartphones have not generally done all that well in India because of infrastructure reasons, he said a lot of the factors were moving in the right direction. “I also think the government is much more focused on the infrastructure and on creating jobs, which is fantastic because you really need the kind of infrastructure and the technology to do that.”
Asked for more clarity on its India strategy, Cook said: “Given our starting point, even though we’ve been growing a lot, there is a lot of headroom there in our mind, and so we are working very hard to realize that opportunity.”