This article might sound too comical and stereotypical, but I want you to read it with rapt attention.
Tim Cook, Apple’s enigmatic CEO will be visiting India for the first time since he became the leader of Apple. In case you are not moved by his decision, it is good to know that the future of Apple depends on it.
With close similarities to China, India is many things to the tech world. Massive population, strong in software development and emerging startup ecosystem. Its population strength puts its in a good position to fuel growth for any brand, particularly a mobile phone maker like Apple. But unlike China, India has not really added much value to Apple.
While Apple’s weaker Q1 2016 result shows that its sales went up by 50% in India, the company has struggled to really drive bigger volume in India.India has a largely poor population who still find it difficult to buy low-end smartphones let alone buying an iPhone.
Apart from planning to open the first Apple shop in India, Apple’s Tim Cook has a great idea for India.
Tim Cook’s mission to meet Narendra Modi, India Prime Minister is to discuss how Apple can unload its refurbished iPhones to the Indian market. The company applied last year and this year, but its application was rejected for many reasons unclear to the outside world. Perhaps for many reason such as anti-competition concerns with emerging local mobile makers that will be hurt should Apple unleash its massive consignments of refurbished iPhones into the market.
Other concerns might be related to security and privacy matters. India is still a traditional, developing and controlled environments. Putting cheaper iPhones in the hands of just anyone in the country’s sprawling landscape is a security risk to India’s evolving government.
But the truth is: Tim Cook is looking too far. Apple need not be to be rejected by India in the first place. Africa needs such products. Nigeria for example is a massive market for refurbished and fairly-used iPhones and other smart devices. The Nigerian government does not over-regulate some simple aspects of trading.
The country has a well-established culture and well structured market for fairly used products and not just mobile phones. From cars to clothes, computers to smartphones. While India’s 1.252 billion population makes the deal easy, Tim Cook would have sold nearly all his consignments in the first one year in Africa. The fact that Africa’s 1.111 billion population is close to India’s numbers shows that Tim should not have waited for two years without shipping one phone into the market.
Africa might not be ripe for Apple’s iconic store, Nigeria has at least five Apple dealer stores, these stores are doing good business across Lagos and other major cities in the country. South Africa with a more developed market does not have the numerical strength to take on the many iPhones.
One of the challenge I see with companies like Apple is that they have always underestimate the potential in Africa. Blackberry underestimated Africa for so many years. The company finally entered Nigeria when the market had already been surrounded by cheap Android smartphones and its death was already foretold in the West.
Apple is struggling seriously to convince investors and the market in general that the company is still hot. Its declining sales figures is enough for the company to enter any market that is less cumbersome.
Should Tim Cook not have Nigeria and Africa in mind, I wish him and his team at Apple the best of luck.