Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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For Apple India, the secret sauce may be in enterprise deals

New Delhi: Apple India’s overall revenue in FY24 could increase by 70%, powered by a strong double-digit growth in iPhone sales through 2023. However, costly iPhones and Macs, combined with weak enterprise partnerships crimping deals with firms for its laptops pose near-term risks to the US-based company that aims to produce a quarter of its iPhones in India by 2025.

Early on Friday, Apple announced its December quarter earnings. Overall revenue beat analyst estimates to reach $119.6 billion—a 2% year-on-year (YoY) growth, marking a seventh straight quarter of record revenues. Growth was led by a rise in sales of its iPhones, but Apple also said that revenue set a quarterly overall record—suggesting that sales of its Mac portfolio of laptops, too, have at least remained consistent.

Apple India’s FY23 financial report filed with the registrar of companies (RoC) pegged its overall revenue at $5.9 billion. Since then, its iPhone sales were estimated to have grown by over 50%. Given that Apple has reported consecutive quarterly revenue records for India through all of 2023, Apple’s revenue in FY24 in India may rise by nearly 70% over the previous financial year.

To be sure, Apple is estimated to have ended 2023 on a record note in terms of its smartphone sales. On 30 January, Mint reported citing data from market researcher Counterpoint India that Apple saw its local revenue reach close to $10 billion in FY24, and also crossed the 10-million-units mark in terms of shipments. In smartphones, Apple held a 6.6% market share in India at the end of 2023.

Data collated from three industry analysts pegged the overall laptop market revenue in India at the end of 2023 at $6.5 billion. On this count, Apple is expected to have ended the year with a share of around 6% in the laptop market, which translates to roughly $400 million in Mac revenue from India. Thus, Mac’s contribution to Apple’s overall India revenue would be no more than 4-5%—which can get a boost from enterprise partnerships.

A key part of this growth could be driven by enterprises, as Luca Maestri, Apple’s chief financial officer, suggested. At a post-earnings analyst call, Maestri said, “In emerging markets, Zoho, a leading technology company headquartered in India, offers its 15,000-plus global employees a choice of devices, with 80% of their workforce using iPhone for work, and nearly two-thirds choosing Mac as their primary computer.” Zoho, to be sure, is not the only enterprise client for Apple. In the company’s June 2022 analyst call, Maestri said that large-cap IT services firm Wipro Ltd was one of its enterprise clients offering MacBooks to attract top executives. A senior industry consultant working with top technology companies in India said on condition of anonymity that companies such as Tata Consultancy Services and Genpact, India units of Google and Amazon, consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, and market researcher YouGov are among those that have enterprise contracts with Apple to offer MacBook laptops—at least to its senior management.

“Apple’s perception as a premium brand is a key factor considered by most top firms, which offer MacBook laptops to at least their top employees. However, the only issue here is that Apple’s enterprise contracts are typically limited to supplying laptops for the top brass of companies—which constitute a low-single digit percentage of any company’s hierarchy. The rest of the market is largely served by HP and Lenovo,” the consultant said.

This reflects in market reports, too. Taking enterprise and consumer markets into account, HP led the Indian personal computer market with a 29.4% market share as of the September quarter, followed by Lenovo with 17%, per a report by International Data Corporation (IDC) India on 16 November. Apple, however, does not feature in the top five, which together corner 85% of the overall market. The last time it featured among India’s top-five PC brands was in the December quarter of 2022, when it had a 5.4% volume-wise share.

Apple’s steeply-priced laptops hurt its ability to expand its market share in India. Compared with a market average of around $600 ( 50,000), Apple’s laptops sell for well over $1,500 ( 1,25,000)—nearly 2.5x the industry average.

Industry experts say that this could be the make-or-break challenge for Apple in India. “Apple sells at a much higher average price than other brands, which means that their industry market share is considerably limited. A number of brands offer Apple products to their senior management, but that does not add sizeably to Apple’s market share in India for Mac,” said Harmeet Singh Walia, senior analyst at market researcher Counterpoint India.

Yet, Apple has reasons to be optimistic.Ashweej Aithal, market researcher at Canalys, said that there is a clear industry demand. “The momentum for enterprise contracts that Apple saw in 2022 is still there, but sales channels see a lack of clear directives on enterprise partnerships from Apple. The market is moving to a value-centric approach, for which Apple is seeing increased market demand among companies. This can potentially lead to higher revenue quantum from Macs for Apple India,” he said.

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