Despite Apple’s record-breaking results globally for the quarter ending on December 25, the iPhone maker saw flat quarterly growth in the Indian market.

According to data provided by Counterpoints Research, Apple saw a 1 per cent quarter-on-quarter dip in the shipment of Apple products to India. In contrast to this, for the same period last year, it had seen growth of 131 per cent.

While the company still saw a 34 per cent year-on-year uptick for the December quarter, experts worry that its growth story in India is going to face challenges.

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Apple’s flattish growth curve comes as a surprise, especially since only three months ago, in its September 2021 earnings call, the tech giant had flagged that it had doubled its sales in the Indian market. This time, Apple CEO Tim Cook conspicuously left India out of his December earnings address. Apple’s Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri noted that the company “reached new all-time records in America, Europe, Greater China and rest of the Asia-Pacific”.

Experts suggest various reasons for the bump in Apple’s growth momentum in the Indian market.

Festive season

According to Shilpi Jain, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research, this trend could be a result of change in when the Diwali festive season was held.

“For 2021, the festive season began earlier, which could mean that a bulk of shipments meant for festive season sales arrived in the September quarter itself” Jain said.

Other experts suggest that the pandemic subsiding could also have had an effect. According to Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst and Founder of Greyhound Research, “During the December quarter for 2020, there was pent up demand, as customers were still establishing their work from home set up etc, which would have dissipated by now. Thus explaining the lack of growth for the latest quarter.”

“Given the supply chain constraints that the company has faced, the fact that they are able to maintain sales comparable to the previous quarter is an achievement itself,” he added.

Discretionary spending

Faisal Kawoosa, Founder of markets analytics firm, Tech Arc, however believes that this trend is the first sign of Apple reverting to its pre-2019 sales in the Indian market.

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“Uptick in sales for premium products such as Apple iPhones etc, came at a time where the pandemic removed all avenues for discretionary spending that would have been available if Covid was not here. As customers could not indulge in other types of luxury spends such as eating out, vacations etc, it opened up the funds and the desire to treat oneself to an iPhone,” said Kawoosa.

He believes that Apple would have a tough time competing with the affordable handsets preferred by Indian consumers, especially as your typical ₹15,000 handset becomes more powerful and streamlined. 

For the quarter, Apple posted revenue of $123.9 billion and net quarterly profit of $34.6 billion.