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India is now one of Apple’s top 5 iPhone markets for the first time

Why Apple's betting big on making iPhones in India

India became Apple’s fifth largest iPhone market in the second quarter, according to research released Tuesday, as the U.S. technology giant ramps up distribution and marketing in what CEO Tim Cook sees as a critical future market.

For Apple, India overtook Germany and France for iPhone sales in the June quarter, and is now behind the U.K., Japan, China and the U.S., Counterpoint Research told CNBC on Tuesday. It is the first time India has been one of Apple’s top five markets for iPhone sales.

India contributed close to 4% of all iPhone sales in the second quarter, according to the research firm. The firm was not able to disclose the exact number of iPhone sales but said they grew 50% year-on-year.

Apple commanded a 5.1% market share in India’s total smartphone market in the period to the end of June, versus 3.4% in the same period last year, Counterpoint Research said.

The rapid growth in India comes as Apple ramps up its presence in the world’s fifth-largest economy from both a retail and manufacturing perspective.

In April, Apple opened its first physical stores in the country in the capital of Delhi and the populous city of Mumbai.

Why Apple's betting big on making iPhones in India

Apple has also shifted some iPhone manufacturing to India as it looks to diversify away from China, where the bulk of its flagship smartphone is currently produced.

India’s smartphone market is dominated by low-cost Android smartphones made by Chinese players like Xiaomi as well as Apple’s arch rival Samsung. However, there has been a growth in the premium smartphone segment. Smartphones priced above $400 now account for 10% of the total volumes of handsets shipped versus 4% before the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Counterpoint Research.

Apple’s growth story in India has been a combination of the company’s “overall strategy focusing on distribution and affordability,” Ankit Malhotra, senior research analyst at Counterpoint Research, told CNBC via email.

“The first industry-wide factor is the growth in the premium market in India which Apple has taken advantage of.”

Analysts are excited about the prospects of India for Apple. Morgan Stanley said in a note Monday that Apple could account for 15% of Apple’s revenue growth over the next five years. Analysts at the investment bank forecast revenue growth over then next 10 years in India to stand at $40 billion.

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