Apple has indeed managed a significant turnaround in India’s smartphone market, according to new figures out from IDC today (via CNN). The Apple smartphone grabbed 15.6 percent of India’s smartphone market by revenue in Q4 2012, according to new data from the research firm, just behind market leading Samsung with its 38.8 percent, a significant change from the third quarter of last year, when IDC showed that Samsung had 46 percent share and Apple didn’t even crack the top five.
The about-face from Apple comes after IDC said in early February that the Mac maker had turned on the juice with respect to sales in India, growing its share by as much as 400 percent. At the time, no specific details about Apple’s actual change in percentage were released, but today’s update indicates that growth has been impressive in absolute terms, as well as relative when it comes to revenue. Still, the company has a lot of ground to make up when it comes to actual device shipment share.
Apple’s move up has been prompted at least in part by a major change in the way it sells the iPhone in India, by employing the help of small local retailers to distribute the device, and creating amortized payment plans that defray the significant upfront cost of buying an iPhone in India. Changing the cost/value proposition was key, since Apple’s iPhone is often much more expensive in India than it is elsewhere in the world, and actually getting it to customers proved very difficult using Apple’s previous distribution channels. The iPad mini and iPad 4 launched in India only shortly after its North American release, however, indicating Apple is trying harder to get products to that market early.
The Apple Store itself still doesn’t have a presence in India, either in physical retail or online. Apple did launch the iTunes Store in India in December, however, which is a big step in helping make sure the device has an ecosystem, but Apple still doesn’t offer the iPhone with carrier subsidies there the way it does elsewhere in the world. Despite the challenges that remain, these IDC figures suggest it’s doing something right, though it’s worth keeping in mind that smartphone adoption in India remains low, at around just 10 percent of the population.