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Monday, April 23, 2012

India: Android outpacing iPhone

As Apple wades through patent battles and criticism over working conditions in other parts of Asia, it faces a different kind of resistance in India: a consistently low customer base.
Rival Android-based phones and BlackBerrys overshadow Apple’s flat 2.4 per cent market share as they continue to be increasingly popular with the country’s youth and business markets.
Analysts say the reach of the Android operating system across global and domestic brands attracts millions of low- and mid-budget customers in India, as does the wide variety of apps available in the Android Market.
“In India, there are 17 global and Indian brands that offer about 125 Android phones between them. So essentially the price range and the choice of models make it attractive… especially to college-goers and corporate users,” Jayanth Kolla, partner at Bangalore-based technology research firm Convergence Catalyst told beyondbrics. “There are several models already available that are under $100… [and] the user experience on them will improve going forward this year.”
By comparison, an iPhone costs upwards of $400, a deterrent for all but the most dedicated Apple fans in India. The technology giant sold only about 75,000 units here last quarter, a tiny 0.2 per cent contribution to its global sales of 37m.
“I don’t think Apple even wants to catch up with Android in terms of numbers in India… [They] have their own target aspirational customers who will go and pick up an iPhone if they want,” Kolla said. “Price is a basic factor here, and as long as you have devices only available in excess of Rs20,000 they can’t compete with lower-priced devices.”
Android phones collectively made up about 30 per cent of smartphones sold in India last year. This was second only to Nokia (46 per cent) but Android devices are expected to outstrip the Finnish brand this year.
India is in the grip of a technology revolution as more and more of India’s 900m mobile phone users opt for cheap smartphones rather than PCs to access the internet. The market for smartphones is set to double to 19-20m units this year, and Android phones are expected to drive this growth, according to Convergence Catalyst.
With an eye on this potential for growth, Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications – India’s second largest service provider by customers – has announced a partnership with Google to promote Android phones alongside its mobile services.
RCom said in a statement: “In line with the rapid growth of smartphones in the country, Reliance has collaborated with Google to catapult the change by providing compelling new experience to device users in terms of speed, coverage and app ecosystem across segments”.
For now, India looks set for an Android future.


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