KOLKATA: Apple is planning more than a twofold expansion of its retail reach in India to double iPhone sales in each of the next three years to achieve fresh targets set by the company’s US parent amid stiff competition in the premium smartphone segment from a reinvigorated Samsung.
The company has signed a distribution deal with the Delhi-based Optiemus Group, which is also a distributor of Samsung and HTC smartphones, three industry executives said. More such deals are in the pipeline, they said. With this, Apple will have a fifth iPhone distributor, the others being Redington, Ingram Micro, Rashi Peripherals and Brightstar, the last of which was appointed in January.
Optiemus has been given a specific mandate to expand the distribution of iPhones in neighbourhood cellphone stores. The group distributes Samsung smartphones in large retail chains and HTC smartphones through separate companies.
“Since shipment figures are one of the indicators of success in the smartphone industry, any new distributor Apple appoints will lead to an instant surge in shipments, which will help it to achieve the target fixed by headquarters and will also lead to a significant jump in retail reach,” an industry executive said.
Apple is pushing for sales of two million iPhones in India in this (October-September) financial year after notching up one million last year. In the seven months ended April 30, the company sold a million iPhones in India. Another executive said Apple India had been under pressure since Samsung has become more aggressive and wants to ensure that volume sales grow at twice the existing pace in the country.
“Apple’s distributors are now reaching out to even local consumer electronic dealers and mobile phone stores for stocking iPhones and setting up dedicated space in such stores,” he said. There was no response to an email sent to Apple. Attempts to reach Optiemus Group promoter Ashok Gupta on his cellphone were unsuccessful.
While Apple has been a longtime leader in the Rs 30,000-plus smartphone market in India, South Korean rival Samsung overtook the American firm in January-April quarter, as per the latest data from market tracker Counterpoint Research. Samsung’s renewed vigour stems from the success of its latest flagship Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and Note Edge.
By value, Apple is the number two brand in the overall Indian smartphone market after Samsung. By volume, Apple ranked lower with a share of about 2%, compared with market leader Samsung at 28% followed by Micromax at 15%.