Apple and Android are both Goliaths in the world of smart technology, competing neck-and-neck with each other on everything they produce, from smartphones and tablets to apps and features.
Then there is India, known as the world's back office, which is a nation with a competent talent-pool of IT professionals, managers, and leaders. How is India taking to Apple and Android? Is it enjoying their daily competitive battles, or is it nonchalant, watching from afar with a meek sense of interest?
Let's find out...
The price ranges
We'll start by looking at the costs, considering India's highly diversified economy.
While products by Apple are priced at a more expensive benchmark globally, a look at the Indian sales figures for the past year have even impressed Tim Cook, Apple's CEO. In a press conference this past July, 2013, Cook said that iPhone sales in India were up at a 400% year-on-year growth rate and that iPad sales were growing in double digits too.
In the last quarter of 2012, Apple sold 230,000 iPhones in India, according to IDC. However, the first quarter of 2013 showed the figure dip to 120,000, which brought the market share down from 4.7% to 2.1% in India.
Apple has a price range of Rs. 26,500 to Rs. 59,500 (i.e. $430 - $966) for its iPhones.
If we compare this with the Android market, the picture is very different. In the first quarter of 2013, IDC said that Android took over the Indian smartphone market by a whopping 90%!
Does the unit cost have something to do with this? Manasi Yadav, a senior market analyst, recently told the Times of India that it probably does. She said that Apple has always been a niche market in India, and that the Indian market is mainly driven by low-cost devices.
Samsung's smartphone range of mobile phones starts from as little as Rs. 5,250 (i.e. $85 for the Samsung Galaxy Ch@t) to as high as Rs. 49,900 (i.e. $810 for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3). As all Samsung devices run on Android, this makes it the more affordable option.
Branding and marketing strategies
How regularly and intensely are Apple and Android advertised in Indian media? More importantly, how great an impact do these campaigns have on the target audiences?
According to a Reuters' report from Feb 2013, despite its niche presence in India, Apple announced a revamp in its marketing strategy in a bid to expand its audience reach. The revamp included the introduction of new payment plans so that customers can pay in installments (i.e. Rs 5,056 per month), a new distribution model, and a broader advertising campaign across mainstream Indian newspapers and television channels that are based on the English language.
Since Android is synonymous with Samsung, Indian consumers tend to identify their handsets and tablets with the latter, rather than the operating system itself. This is partly to do with the fact that Samsung's other products (in the electronics and household appliances category) are selling really well in India. Furthermore, Samsung's advertising campaigns are strategically positioned across popular mass media and communicated in English, plus certain regional languages that are spoken in India.
Hoardings, billboards, newspaper and television advertisements (with Bollywood celebrity endorsements) are all used by Samsung to engage audiences. All of these factors contribute to making Samsung much more accessible to the Indian masses, thereby boosting sales and conversion figures.
Maybe if Apple advertised in Hindi and other regional languages or made its products more readily available in other mainstream retail outlets (e.g. in Reliance Digital and Spencer's), it could improve its reach and appeal.
Applications and technical support
Apple's iTunes and Android's Google Play are both commonplace names, not just within the IT circuit, but to most smartphone users in India.
Smartphones are increasingly growing in popularity in India, particularly due to their availability through brands offering them at lower costs (e.g. Nokia, HTC, BlackBerry, Micromax, and Karbon). Similarly, Indian smartphone users are always on the lookout for quality devices that are budget-friendly. However, budget restrictions do not stop them from wanting to find out what the bigger players, such as Apple and Android, have to offer.
The Indian urban youth, who come from middle and upper classes and secure jobs in the medicine, pharmaceutical, engineering, IT, marketing, media, and finance sectors, form the main target audience for both Apple and Android. This particular audience base has no qualms in purchasing a smartphone from either brand or vocally stating their views about their purchases to their contacts, be it in person or through social media.
Keeping the Indian customer base happy
Between the two major brands, it does seem that Android is currently in the lead in India, courtesy of Samsung's pricing, branding, and marketing strategies. However, Apple has garnered its own place within the Indian technology marketplace and is respected by many users to be superior in terms of sheer technological innovation and excellent customer service.
The bottom line? At the time of this writing, Android brings the smart technology dream closer to Indians than Apple does. Do you agree? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
Dr. Manroop Takhar is the managing director of Qudos Animations, a leading animation studio in London, United Kingdom, that produces high impact explainer animations for businesses worldwide.