India isn’t buying smartphones. Apple is out, BlackBerry is in. India accounts for over 600 million active subscribers. Apple’s appeal strikes Norwegians more than Indians. Nokia and RIM are tapping into the gold of the world’s second biggest market for mobile technology, since the growth rate in India is as big as 70% annually over the next 4 years. That translates to these companies recovering some of their losses to Apple in America and Europe.
One opinion, posed by an analyst in Toronto, suggests that the wireless carriers of India are too slow at offering 3G nationwide and that this nullifies the advantages of iPhone features. On the other hand, RIM has just the right timing with the perfect product for the situation.
Indian analysts tell that the reason for the rejection of Apple is that most networks in India are still 2G and the main advantages of Apple lie in the 3G networks. A measly 0.2% of the world’s iPads were delivered onto the Indian market.
An additional problem Apple has is that Indians cannot purchase iPads, iPhones, or iTunes directly from the website or from Apple stores. Apple has contracted with Croma of Tata Group and a Reliance Industries Ltd. subsidiary.
Estimates have the Apple shipments of iPhones to India as low as 62,000 in the June 30th quarter, which is only 2.6% of India’s overall shipments of smartphones. Apple shipped more phones to Israel, Norway, and Belgium. Nokia shipped 46% of India’s smartphones, Samsung 21, and RIM 15.
RIM, on the other hand, has the advantage with having broken the frontier of India in the first place and maintaining backward compatibility with older networks. RIM has plans in the fire to expand from its current 15 cities to 80, according to RIM in India.
RIM’s success in India is the opposite of what is happening worldwide for the company. This year alone its stock plummeted 65% on NASDAQ. The company has lost three of its executives in the last 6 months and they have only managed to sell half the expected volume of PlayBook tablets in the second quarter.
Nokia’s shares are down 45% this year and it is yielding to Apple’s world dominance of the market. The pressure from Asian mobile phone manufacturers that is pushing the price below $100 isn’t helping either.
Estimates place the increase in smartphone sales in India at 68% every year. That is an equivalent of over 80 million phones in the next 4 years.
Aon Hewitt LLC reports that wages will rise more in India this year than in any other country in Asia. So as India’s citizens are growing in wealth, due chiefly to the new 5-year plan of a 9% GDP growth, India can boast of having joined the top 12 countries in the world with the largest numbers of millionaires.
Ultimately, Apple cannot break this geographic market open because it appeals to the elite classes who imagine themselves better than the masses. Apple has never been targeted toward the masses. This, together with the late investment in India and the advantages being placed on the 3G networks, have all worked to keep Apple out of being a player in India.