16/07/2018 9:50 AM IST | Updated 16/07/2018 9:50 AM IST

Apple Is Struggling In India As Key Executives Leave, Sales Drop

It's also cutting back on discounts.

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Representational image of an iPhone.

Apple is the richest phone brand in the world, but the same can not be said for its performance in India. While Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly said that Apple is very "bullish" about India, it has remained a niche brand as its pricing keeps it out of the hands of most Indians.

A recent report cast further doubts about the future, as three key executives have now left the company. This includes the national sales and distribution chief, the head of commercial channels and mid-market business, and the head of telecom carrier sales, Bloomberg wrote.

In India, where it has a market share of about 2 percent, Apple sold just 3.2 million iPhones in 2017, according to Counterpoint Research, In the first half of 2018, fewer than a million devices moved, it estimated.

According to BGR, the new India head, Michel Coulomb has also been reported to be struggling with his new job in making business relationships in the market ever since he joined in December 2017. This follows Apple's continuous struggle to understand the Indian market.

At the same time, a report in the Economic Times added that Apple is now blacklisting retailers offering big discounts, and is ensuring sales at the maximum retail price, according to senior executives. Apple used to follow a similar policy earlier, but had ceded price control to retailers as heavy discounting online helped the brand reach more people for some time.

However, the impact of discounting on sales was limited as the phones remained out of reach for most. Although the total number of smartphones in India is enormous, the vast majority of these are in fact priced at under Rs. 10,000, while an entry level iPhone 8 has an MRP of Rs. 75,000 (although you can get one for around Rs. 60,000 now).

As ET noted, Apple could increase sales by lowering prices, but this would lower its value as an aspirational brand.