Apple India saw sales grow by 93% during the October-December quarter against the same period a year ago, as restrictions on international flights prevented frequent fliers from buying the devices abroad at lower prices. This was the highest growth in sales recorded by Apple in India.
Trade analysts estimate that around 65-70% of iPhones sold in India are not sold through normal retail channels. Traders, who travel to countries like the US or the UAE on a regular basis, buy devices there and sell them in the Indian market. For consumers, such a purchase is cheaper since apart from a lower maximum retail price, no taxes have to be paid on these phones. The price difference due to such arbitrage can be as much as 40%.
For instance, the iPhone 12 (256 GB) costs Rs 15,065 more in India than in the UAE, while the iPhone 12 PRO (512 GB) costs Rs 35,377 more. Before the pandemic, there would be around 183 flights a week between India and UAE from over seven destinations in the country.
Moreover, sales of iPhone 11, iPhone SE (2020) and iPhone XR also zoomed during the period. All these devices are made in India, which helps keep the price competitive as 20% basic customs duty is not levied on them. Some pent-up demand for the iPhone 12 also led to the growth.
In the December quarter earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook made a special mention of sales in India. He said Apple had doubled its business in the country in the quarter, compared to the same period the year before.
According to International Data Corporation’s, the October-December quarter saw record smartphone shipments of 45 million devices, a 21% y-o-y growth. Although, IDC did not share Apple’s shipment volumes, it stated that Apple became the seventh highest smartphone vendor in India during the period.
An analyst confirmed to FE that of the 45 million smartphones sold during the October-December quarter, about 1.5 million were iPhones, which constituted a 3% market share.