For Americans and numerous consumers across other Western countries, Apple’s iPhone and its corresponding iOS ecosystem are a part of everyday life. From mobile gaming to music streaming and video calling, the iPhone is the go-to device for huge swaths of people in the West. Not so in the East where Google’s Android operating system is far more widely used. In fact, according to Interpret’s New Media Measure: Global Profiles™, 70% of consumers in India and 73% in China own an Android smartphone. The gap between iPhone and Android ownership, however, is particularly stark in India where just 11% own an iPhone, whereas China sees about 36% iPhone ownership and, in the US, the Android-iPhone split is nearly even.
Samsung smartphones and lower-cost phones from Chinese firms like Oppo and Xiaomi do especially well with price-conscious consumers in India. That said, Apple sees a great opportunity to expand its footprint in India, the world’s fifth-largest economy, and hopes that its business on the continent will eventually eclipse that of China’s. Apple just last month opened its first-ever Apple Store in Mumbai and has plans to open another in Delhi soon.
Apple CEO Tim Cook believes that India’s growing segment of consumers with more disposable income will pave the way for iPhone adoption. “There are a lot of people coming into the middle class, and I really feel that India is at a tipping point, and it’s great to be there,” he remarked. It’s also worth noting that India’s population is expected to overtake China’s, possibly even this year. If Apple can convince even a small portion of this growing population to consider switching to iOS, that would represent sizable growth in the region.
The early returns for Apple in India this year have been very encouraging. During the first quarter earnings call, Cook boasted that Apple set a “quarterly record” for its business in the country with “very strong, double digits year-over-year” growth.
Moreover, Apple isn’t simply viewing India as another place to sell its products – the company has been targeting India’s talented laborers for manufacturing as it looks to reduce its reliance on Chinese factories. Apple began assembling its iPhone 14 in India last year, and if production of Apple devices in the country is handled responsibly, some Indians may look more favorably towards purchasing products built in India, especially as Narendra Modi’s government has been focused on a “Make in India” push.