Apple is revamping its iPhone marketing strategy in India four years since it began selling the iconic smartphone in the country. The company has introduced a subscription payment plan that makes the device more affordable for India’s sizable emerging market.
Reuters reports that the new installment payment plan is accompanied by a heavy marketing campaign. A recent full page ad for the iPhone 5 priced the device at 5,056 rupees, $93, in the Times of India. This advertised price refers to the initial payment on a device priced at $840 altogether. This full price can amount to two months wages for an entry-level employee, which has kept the device out of the hands of many Indians since the device’s initial release. Apple hopes its new marketing strategy will change that.
In the second half of 2012, Apple began to ship iPhones via two new distributors. As a result, iPhone shipments nearly tripled in the final quarter of 2012. The MobileStore, a chain in India owned by the Essar conglomerate, claims to sell 15 percent of iPhones in the country. It accredits Apple’s new subscription plan with tripling iPhone sales between December and January.
India is the world’s second largest mobile phone market, but smartphones make up only a tenth of total phone sales in the country. Over 90 percent of India’s mobile phone users have prepaid accounts without contracts. Carriers do not subsidize the price of handsets, a practice that lowers the upfront cost of handsets in the US. Apple’s new installment strategy does not make the iPhone cheap, but it does push the popular device into the realm of affordability for more of India’s consumers.