On the back of its first annual revenue decline in 15 years, Apple is now looking at India - one of its fastest-growing markets - for future growth. CEO Tim Cook said in the company's fourth-quarter earnings call that it saw a 50 percent growth in iPhone sales in the fiscal year ending September 2016 and sees headroom for more growth in the future.
Speaking about iPhone sales in India, Cook said "Our iPhone sales in India were up over 50 percent in fiscal 2016 compared to the prior year, and we believe we're just beginning to scratch the surface of this large and growing market opportunity." It certainly does appear as it this growth is not a flash in the pan, but a pattern for Apple, which also posted a 51 percent increase in iPhone sales in India last quarter as well.
Talking about its partnership with Reliance Jio in India, and the potential of the Jio iPhone Offer, Cook said, "Looking ahead, we're seeing some very exciting developments in India. Reliance Jio is rolling out a first-of-its-kind all-IP network in India with 4G coverage in 18,000 cities and 200,000 villages across the country. They're offering a free year of service to purchasers of new iPhones and we're partnering with them to ensure great iPhone performance on their network."
India was also included among the markets where the iPhone is experiencing "strong growth," placing it alongside Canada, Latin America, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia.
During the earnings call, Citigroup Global Markets broker James D. Silva asked if India will be as big an opportunity as China in terms of market size, due to the differences in disposable income metrics.
Cook responded that there is a lot of headroom for growth in India and the company is "working very hard to realize that opportunity." He cited factors such as India's young population, improving 4G infrastructure, and an increasing demand for smartphones in the middle class for the continuous growth and positive outlook for the market.
"On India, I think it's important to look not only at per capita income [..] but sort of look at the number of people that are or will move into the middle class sort of over the next decade. And the age of the population, if you look at India, almost 50 percent of the population is under 25. And so you have a very, very young population," Cook said.
India has been high on Apple's list of priorities over the past year, with the company working on bringing the Apple Stores to the country. While iPhone 5s, the cheapest iPhone available in India, remains popular in the Indian market, the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were warmly received as well.