In Bengaluru’s busy Madiwala neighborhood, a Poorvika Mobile World shop is plastered with posters for Samsung and Xiaomi and filled with inexpensive phones from brands like China’s Oppo and Vivo. Off to one side is a forlorn display stand with the iPhone 6, 6s, and X, the latter sitting upside down. Despite a zero-interest payment plan and cash-back incentives, Apple Inc. is lucky if the iPhones account for 25 of the 1,000 smartphones the store sells each month, says manager Nagaraja B.C., who goes by one name. “The average budget of a shopper is about 10,000 rupees,” he says, roughly $150. The iPhone SE, the cheapest Apple model, costs almost twice that. For $100, shoppers can get a Xiaomi Redmi 5A with a bigger battery, better camera, and greater storage capacity.
For years, Indian consumers have complained that Siri can’t process their requests in local languages, they have no access to Apple Pay, and Apple Maps can’t give them turn-by-turn directions or identify points of interest.
Apple has long been the high-priced spread, with a focus on tapping the moneyed crowd. The first quote above implies that the pricey iPhone is not a financial match for this particular market. The second quote seems more a result of that mismatch.
Once Apple figures out how to build product that fits this market, once they see the potential revenue here, Apple will no doubt apply their resources to solve the localization problem.