SAN: As China sales show signs of cooling, Apple Inc is touting India's appetite for iPhones, betting that rising wages and an expanding middle class will pull consumers away from the cheap alternatives that currently dominate the market.

In an earnings call in which the company reported meagre iPhone growth and forecast its first revenue drop in 13 years, the Indian market stood out as a rare bright spot for Apple.

Sales of the company's flagship smartphone climbed 76 per cent in India from the year-ago quarter, Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said.

According to data compiled by Counterpoint Technology Research, Apple sold an estimated 800,000 iPhones in India in the fourth-quarter, its highest ever amount but one that is a fraction of the 28 million smartphones sold during that period.

Growth in India is a tantalizing prospect as Apple grapples with the economic downturn in China, its second largest market.

While revenue in Greater China rose 14pc in the last quarter, Apple is beginning to see a shift in the economy, particularly in Hong Kong, Maestri told Reuters in an interview.

But with nearly 70pc of smartphones selling for less than $150 in India, Apple's high-end phones remain out of reach of most consumers.

The basic iPhone 6S sells at just under $700 in India, or nearly half the average annual wage.

"In many ways India is very similar to what China was a few years ago, but the middle class here is still very small and it can be two to three years before Apple gets a similar level of success in India," said Counterpoint Technology Research analyst Tarun Pathak.

Apple CEO Tim Cook struck a more optimistic note, saying the company was "increasingly putting more energy" into India, citing a largely youthful population with rising disposable income as more people join the workforce.

With faster 4G coverage expanding, Apple has already asked Indian government for a license to set up its own retail stores just as the market seems to be turning in its favour.

As in China, Apple products are a coveted status symbol in India, a market that analysts say is likely to overtake the United States (US) next year to become the world's second largest smartphone market.

"The love for the iPhone is there," said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research and head of US business at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, a consumer research firm.

Follow Dawn Business on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook for insights on business, finance and tech from Pakistan and across the world.

Opinion

Editorial

Abject failure
Updated 06 Dec, 2023

Abject failure

Nepra must also order an internal inquiry to determine why its own officials dragged their feet and failed to take appropriate action against overbilling.
Hidden scars
06 Dec, 2023

Hidden scars

IN Pakistan, the spectre of gender-based violence casts a long, oppressive shadow over women and girls. Rooted in...
Organ trafficking
06 Dec, 2023

Organ trafficking

DESPITE legal safeguards being in place to crack down on the illicit organ transplantation racket, it is clear that...
Chilas bus attack
Updated 05 Dec, 2023

Chilas bus attack

Locals, particularly in Diamer and Kohistan, need to be on board to ensure that militants have no place to hide.
State’s insecurities
05 Dec, 2023

State’s insecurities

ONE hopes that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor’s recent remarks regarding the ‘less-than-ideal’ security...
Underage driving
05 Dec, 2023

Underage driving

SIX lives — all members of a single family — were recently lost in Lahore to the unabated menace of underage...