Close on the heels of record shipment growth in calendar 2021, Cupertino-based Apple Inc. is expected to post a strong performance this year too with iPhone shipments growing much faster than overall smartphone shipments yet again on the back of local manufacturing advantages and premium phone sales, according to experts who track this market.
Apple shipped close to 6 million iPhones, its highest ever in India last year. Consequently, Apple's shipments in India grew by 108% in the same period even as overall smartphone shipments rose 11%, according to Counterpoint analysts who expect Apple to "have another record year in India".
"We are estimating 25% shipment growth for Apple. The overall smartphone market is expected to grow at 14%. So, Apple will grow faster than the market in 2022,” said Tarun Pathak, research director at Counterpoint Research.
Enumerating the reasons for the growth, Prachir Singh, senior research analyst at Counterpoint, pointed out that Apple’s local manufacturing has increased, which they have leveraged to give discounts to consumers, especially during the festive season sales.
According to Counterpoint Research, iPhone shipments rose 34% during the October-December quarter of 2021, when major festive season sales take place in India.
Shipments refer to the number of smartphones sent by brands to distributors and wholesalers. Though the number of shipments typically end up close to the number of units sold to end customers, it does not hold true for all smartphone models. This can result in inflated shipment numbers for certain models.
Singh added that the premium segment was the driving factor for overall growth and will remain so in 2022. “Apple has covered the premium segment in a holistic manner and has a model for each segment--be it premium, mid premium or affordable premium. In 2022, Apple will launch a new model in the iPhone SE series and iPhone 12 will be sold at the price of iPhone 11. Shipments of iPhone 11 will decline,” Singh added.
The fact that iPhone 12 is 5G ready also makes it more appealing than the iPhone 11 and earlier models. According to Singh, the government has also announced that 5G will be auctioned this year, which makes iPhone 12 a compelling option in the premium segment.
Market research firm Canalys recently predicted that India will see an upward momentum in adoption of technologies that are future-proof and consumers will prefer devices that are ready when 5G services rollout.
That said, Counterpoint analysts do not expect the rise in shipment sales to translate into any significant increase in market share.
Apple’s market share had almost doubled year-on-year (YoY) in 2021 to reach 4%. Counterpoint’s Singh believes Apple’s overall market share in India is expected to improve, but only marginally.
Navkendar Singh, research director at IDC India also believes Apple will replicate last year’s success in 2022. However, he explained that the growth in shipments will not change Apple’s market position any time soon.
According to estimates by IDC's Singh, Apple is currently ranked at 7 or 8 and is unlikely to break into the Top 5 as the Top 6 vendors, which include Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo, Oppo, Realme and Transsion, are also expected to grow. "This market is dominated by the big boys who are getting bigger. At least, there are no signs of them getting smaller."
"India is the last standing market of its size even with replacement of all these to 5G in next few years. And that unicorn of 500 million who don't use a smartphone is also there," IDC's Singh added.
Pathak concurred, adding, “Apple's position in the Top 10 brands will slip in 2021 due to expected increase in shipments of Jio's entry level smartphones." As per Canalys, Reliance Jio shipped close to 2 million units of Jio Phone Next in Q4 2021.