At the Annual Shareholders Meeting this week, Apple gave an indication of their focus on new markets. They plan to open 25 new stores over the next 2 years in China. Not surprising, since Apple has sold more than 200,000 iPhones in China already since the official launch and sees a huge potential there. Does it put paid to any hopes of Apple showing interest in India, at least in the short term? I think so. Herewith some kite-flying on reasons why:
Similar yet different: China is the world’s largest mobile market with about 687 million customers. While India is not far behind with around 500mn, the dynamics vis-a-vis the Apple brand is different. While both may have a sizable middle class, I think Apple’s equity is relatively stronger in China. Proof: Mac sales in China increased nearly 100 % over previous year in the first financial quarter of 2010. Apple seems to be for the long haul in China focused on the quality of the point of sale and consumer experience, rather than on sales. Tim Cook says:
“We would prefer to move slow because we are building the brand for the long-term and we are very much focused on the long-term in that market, because we think there is significant potential there”.
Does Apple have a similar confidence about the Indian market? I doubt it. The large middle class and the huge mobile subscriber base remain largely apathetic to Apple. The cult brands in the PC and mobile segments are Microsoft & Nokia respectively. Not to mention Apple’s pricing issues in both these segments.
Ruthless focus: Apple is known to be ruthlessly focused when it comes to product development. Ditto with their marketing strategy. Steve Chazin calls it ‘Do one thing, better‘. Despite the seemingly promising numbers in India, I think Apple will continue to ignore India.
So if you are an Apple fan, I guess it’s status quo. Don’t expect the iPhone 3GS anytime soon. Don’t expect subsidies if and when it launches here. Expect your Apple re-seller to be as clueless as ever. And watch other brands take away the cream of the market.