India, having overtaken the United States last year, has become the world’s second-largest and fastest-growing smartphone market — one that, despite stiff competition, Apple doesn’t plan to lose.
According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple has been struggling in India over the past few years. Now, however, the Cupertino company has created a plan to stay afloat in the Indian market by “remolding Apple’s failing India strategy.” Apple’s India plan began when Apple executive Michael Coulomb began overseeing its India operation at the end of last year.
Apple’s India strategy comes in the form of a four-point plan: making better and longer-lasting retail deals with higher sales targets, the opening of official Apple retail stores in India, “overhauling” the company’s relationship with independent retailers, and improving apps and services “aimed more closely at Indians.”
The last point, in particular, includes a completely overhauled Apple Maps that is slated to launch in 2020. The company is slowly rolling out more detailed first-party map data for Apple Maps beginning with iOS 12 betas, and it looks like India might be on the receiving end of the improved coverage. These upgrades may also include turn-by-turn directions.
In terms of retail improvements, Apple plans on opening new official stores in New Delhi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai, and by 2019. While Indian law previously forbade Apple to launch local stores, the fact that the company builds a number of iPhone models in the country has made it possible to do so.
Additionally, Apple will be partnering with individual stores to raise sales targets by four times to 40 or 50 units every week. In exchange, Apple will be training staff to teach customers how to operate their phones, similar to what it does in its Genius Bars and revamp in-store branding as well as product displays. In addition, the company will be employing stricter guidelines with conference calls to track progress and cutting off retailers which, more often than that, fail to hit the established target.
As part of the new strategy, Apple is said to be in talks with retailers and banks to “offer holiday deals year round” to convince customers to purchase its smartphones.
It remains to be seen whether this strategy will be enough for the Cupertino company in India, especially if it’s not able to overcome the most basic economic obstacles. Many India shoppers aren’t able to afford the locally-built iPhone SE, instead aiming for an average budget or around $150 USD, reports Bloomberg.
Apple’s plan, however, might not be enough for success in India, the report concludes:
“None of this will make much difference if Apple doesn’t understand its customers. For years, Indian consumers have complained that Siri can’t process their requests in local languages, they have no access to Apple Pay, and Apple Maps can’t give them turn-by-turn directions or identify points of interest.”