This could be the year that Apple's iPhone makes its move in India

Apple is suddenly the No. 2 preferred smartphone brand on the subcontinent.

From Counterpoint Research's "About 50% of India Smartphone Users Planning to Buy New Device Within a Year as 5G Transition Gathers Pace: Survey" posted Friday:

About half of India’s smartphone owners plan to purchase their next smartphone within a year, according to Counterpoint Research’s annual consumer smartphone study in India. Further, India’s smartphone market ASP (average selling price) is expected to rise because consumers tend to prefer a higher price band for every subsequent purchase. Also, Samsung, Apple and OnePlus are at the top as the survey respondents’ preferred smartphone brands for the next purchase. In terms of features, 5G capability is the third most important feature considered when planning the next purchase. The same factor is ranked tenth in terms of importance for current smartphone purchases.

    • Looking at the brand preference for the next smartphone purchase:
    • Samsung, Apple and OnePlus are the respondents’ most preferred brands.
    • Samsung users have the strongest brand loyalty with 51% of the users who used Samsung as their previous device also using Samsung currently. Further, 43% of the current Samsung users prefer the brand for their next smartphone purchase.
    • Apple, despite having a smaller share in previous and current smartphone purchases, is the second most preferred brand (20%) for future purchases.

My take: This is quite a leap forward. I haven't yet seen a Counterpoint bar graph of the Indian smartphone market in which Apple's share wasn't relegated to Others. E.g....

apple india 5G iphone


  1. Fred Stein said:
    From a friend, who traveled recently to India. She was born there, from a family that is well off and well educated. (Pre iPhone 14 launch)

    People want the iPhone 13 Pro, which they know by the Camera bump, not by model numbers. Due to the limits on Apple retail locally, iPhones come into India from friends and relatives, often as gifts. It must be iPhone, no others. A new iPhone costs about as much as 1 month’s salary for a software engineer in India. Packing for a trip is an ordeal, with Kg limits and the rmandate to bring goodies from the US, mainly iPhones, iPads. Full mobile voice and data plans are $10/month.

    There’s also a lively market for spare parts to support the local iPhone/Pad repair industry. Repair is a pain point.

    Local mobile payments are mainly with Google Pay, not Apple, nor Android, nor Samsung Pay. Mobile payments are accepted by street merchants.

    October 21, 2022
  2. Jerry Doyle said:
    “…. About half of India’s smartphone owners plan to purchase their next smartphone within a year, ….”.

    I am attempting to wrap my head around that fact denoted above. Then the next question is how many Indians own smartphones? Once we have that answer than we know (if we accept this research finding) half of them plan to purchase a new smartphone. We know there is approximately 1.4B good folk in India. How many of them own smartphones? That turnover of 50 percent of current owners seems high. Do half of the US market smartphone users ever plan to upgrade annually? I think not. Why would India’s market be that different?

    October 21, 2022
    • Daniel Epstein said:
      I think the majority of the Indian cell phone market have been buying lower cost, lower quality, lower durability phones so it doesn’t surprise me that so many are interested in buying a new phone within the year. Since Apple has jumped through most of the hoops set up by the Indian government so they can participate in the Indian market (including the ability to assemble phones) I would expect much better sales in the country. If the value proposition appeal to the usual percentage of the population then Apple’s growth in India should be impressive since they are starting at such a small base. Hard to say what amount of market penetration Apple will actually make but low double digits would be a lot of additional phones. Not sure how much revenue that will be but should be noticeable over time.

      October 21, 2022
    • Bart Yee said:
      Here’s some numbers I found, best viewed in landscape:
      Newzoo 2021 – Smartphone users by country
      Country – T. pop – % owners – SP pop
      China 1.44B 59.9% 865.0M
      India 1.39B 43.5% 606.57M
      USA 332.9M 72.1% 240.15M
      Indonesia 276.36M 64.8% 178.96M
      Brazil 213.99M 61.6% 131.73
      Russia 145.91M 70.1% 102.24
      Japan 126.05M 75.2% 94.78
      Mexico 130.26M 59.4% 77.31
      Nigeria 211.4M 34.1% 72.03
      Philippines 111.05M 60.7% 67.37
      Germany 83.9M 80% 67.14
      Vietnam 98.17M 67.8% 66.55

      Deloitte estimates India to have 1.2 billion mobile subscribers with ~750M smartphone users in 2021, rest are feature phone users. They estimate India will have 1 billion smartphone users by 2026.

      India is estimated to be increasing users at ~25M new subscribers each quarter. I suspect there will also be low but steady turnover / upgrades from feature phones to smartphone but cost & price are still very important considerations.

      October 22, 2022
      • Bart Yee said:
        So let’s take a conservative 600M smartphone users in 2021-2022 and suggest that the “half of India’s (current) smartphone users will purchase their next smartphone within a year”. That’s ~300M new smartphones bought (with many previous Androids (largest majority) E-wasted or abandoned, some resold).

        IDC estimates 4.8M iPhones sold in 2021 and 5.5M-6M in 2022. Statista claims 2021 iPhones at 5.4M and 4.4% share. Techarc suggest over 7 million iPhones will be sold in India in 2022, and the install base should exceed 20 million in 2022. 7M iPhones at ASP of $650 (India market) is ~$4.5B annual or roughly $1.25B/ quarter average. If India ASP is more like global of $800, then $5.6B annual revenue.

        Now 7M of 300M is only 2.3% of annual sales vs 20M/600M = 3.4% iPhone penetration but if Indian economy recovers / grows and iPhone sales continue to grow, can double install base every 2-3 years to around 90M-95M by 2026, suggesting they will have >9% installed market share by 2026.

        October 22, 2022
  3. Lalit Jagtap said:
    Friends, I am convinced that the India will be Apple’s 2nd biggest market in next 5 years. Yesterday was a one more huge enabler for Apple to grow in India. Read this press release by Competition Commission of India and specially #4 and #5 where it has clearly separated Apple with Google wrt to its device and app store offerings.

    October 21, 2022
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      @Lalit. It would appear that Google has run afoul on India regulators on many fronts, while those same regulators (acknowledging Apple’s iOS) didn’t have much to say about it.

      The key issue is the market dominance of Android in India.

      I think this could change as iPhone (iOS) share increases.

      October 21, 2022
  4. Rodney Avilla said:
    I bought the watch 8, and am giving my watch 6 to a family member, who is giving his watch 4 to a friend, since it is working with no problems. My guess an iphone or apple watch in India will have a long life.

    October 21, 2022

Leave a Reply