- Apple’s iPhone is gaining on Android in India and other developing and emerging markets.
- CEO Tim Cook highlights `very strong’ Android switchers, and hints the iPhone SE is here to stay.
- Data show iPhone demand surging in Indian, although Android still dominates this market.
Watch out Google. The iPhone is beginning to chip away at Android’s smartphone dominance in developing markets and Apple CEO Tim Cook is confident of more gains to come.
On this week’s Q3 earnings call, Cook highlighted “very strong switchers” from Android handsets to iPhones, along with “especially strong growth” in developing and emerging markets including India, Latin America and Vietnam.
“We had an incredible quarter for the emerging markets,” he added, and later noted June quarter sales records in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Turkey, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Indonesia.
If this success continues, it would be a major shift in the mobile landscape. Ever since smartphones became popular more than a decade ago, Apple has focused on the high end of the market with mostly premium-priced handsets. That left Android to gobble up market share in emerging markets, where many consumers can’t afford expensive phones.
But last year, Apple launched a new iPhone SE starting at $399, roughly half the price of a typical iPhone. That has helped the company make serious gains in countries like India, where it has struggled for years.
“India is a good example, where Apple iPhone doubled its market share in the past year,” Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said. The research firm estimates that iPhone demand in India grew 136% year-over-year in the last quarter, compared with 73% for Android smartphones.
Mawston pointed out that the iPhone is rising from a much lower base in these markets — it’s gone from about 1% market share last year to 2% this year so far. “But the scope to cut prices for further shipment growth tomorrow is huge for Apple,” the analyst said.
UBS analyst David Vogt asked Cook this week about Apple’s pricing strategy, and Cook hinted strongly that the iPhone SE has helped emerging market sales and will be around for some time to come.
“We still do have SE in the long run,” Cook said. “We want something for the entry buyer who really wants to get into an iPhone and then something for the pro buyer who wants the very best iPhone that they can buy. And I think that’s true in the emerging markets as good as it’s true in the United States or other developed markets.”
Apple’s iPhone and iOS operating system have even made notable gains versus Android in the US in recent years. A report published late last year by Consumer Research Intelligence Partners found that iOS and Android smartphone activations were evenly split in the US, as MacRumors reported. Back in 2017, iOS had about a third of US activations.
“Apple has been gaining share in 2020 and 2021 in particular with the success of the iPhone 12 lineup,” said Maurice Klaehne, research analyst at Counterpoint. “Carriers are heavily promoting 5G smartphones to get customers on 5G service plans which has helped Apple upgrade more of its base in recent times.”
A Google spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
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