A new report out of Kolkata India today states that "Apple may soon be slugging it out in the trenches with Samsung and other smartphone rivals as India country head Maneesh Dhir and telecom business chief Sanjay Kaul seek a rapid increase in the pace of growth in India, a market that it has neglected until recently."
Apple's new marketing vision for India was unveiled on Monday evening at a meeting with 20 CEOs and senior executives of the country's top multi-brand telecom and electronic retail chains. Apple India's senior executives spelt out plans to enter the top tier markets in India by selling its phones, tablets and portable music players at their outlets in an exclusive corner or a shop-in-shop, said three people who attended the meeting. They requested anonymity since Apple officials had asked them to keep details of the meeting confidential. The "shop-in-shop" concept will likely resemble Best Buy's current "store-in-store" set ups in North America.
The report further stated that "Apple wants to enter smaller Indian cities and towns with iPhones, iPads and iPods as it feels these markets can deliver on its bid to grow fast."
The CEO of one of India's retail chains added that "Apple has realised that if it wants to grow fast in India, it has to look beyond the metros. The company wants to grow upwards of 30% year-on-year in India and feels the smaller markets would play a critical role since the aspiration level of Apple products amongst the youth and rich is growing there as well."
It was noted in March that Apple was committed to tripling their retail footprint in India by 2015 and yesterday's meeting as noted earlier is clearly a demonstration that they're deadly focused on achieving that goal. In May we reported that iPhone sales in India had soared to 400% in a new campaign and Apple now appears to be preparing for the next level of growth.
Dhir joined Apple India three years ago from AOL Inc., where he was the global head for international business, and changed the way Apple was doing business in the country. He hired Kaul from BlackBerry India, expanded the team threefold to more than 150 executives, strengthened the Apple exclusive stores network, shortened the gap between the launch of new models overseas and in India and spearheaded the company's thrust on iPhones.
As far back as January we noted that Apple's move to sell 28 cent songs in India may have signaled their preparation for a larger move into India in the not-too-distant future with a more economical iPhone. We're now seeing this come to life. And while the new iPhone 5C is seen as not being competitive enough for the Indian market due to phone subsidies being almost non-existent, Apple is working on that very issue with their retail partners.
According to The Economic Times, Dhir and Kaul are trying to work around the issue of non-subsidized plans by offering iPhones and other devices on installment, tapping a considerable vein of pent-up demand. Apple has also stated that both Apple's retail stores and select Authorized Apple Resellers will offer the iPhone 4s for free (US) with a two-year contract." I'm sure it's this kind of deal that Apple will be working on in India for the 4S and perhaps the new iPhone 5C.
All in all, and despite the mainstream press thinking that the iPhone 5C won't cut it in emerging markets, Apple is focused on experimenting with various new marketing plans to further push their iDevices into emerging markets as we've learned about today.