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Apple’s New India Head Begins to Flex Muscles

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Apple reconfiguring iPhone business strategy in India

Apple (AAPL) hired a former Nokia (NOK) executive to head up its India operations. Ashish Chowdhary, a former chief customer operations officer at Nokia, started in his new role as Apple’s India country head in January. After less than three months on the job, Chowdhary is starting to flex his muscles to help Apple improve its business in India.

According to a report from the Economic Times, Apple is making big changes in the way it runs the iPhone business in India. For example, the company will stop selling certain older iPhone models in India and raise the prices of certain newer models. At the same time, Apple will reduce the number of third-party physical stores that sell iPhones in India. The changes Apple is undertaking in India are viewed as designed to reinforce its premium brand image and control costs.

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Apple wants to turn around its fortunes in India

Apple’s attempts to retool its strategy to boost the iPhone business in India comes as no surprise. Apple has struggled to grow in India’s smartphone market. Counterpoint estimates show that its market share there fell to as low as 1.0% in 2018. While the likes of Samsung (SSNLF) have taken to selling lower-cost smartphones to survive in India, Apple seems to believe that portraying the iPhone as a premium smartphone brand in India would help set it apart from competition in the market.

As its middle-class consumer base expands, India has generally become a big focus for many technology companies seeking growth. Besides Apple, Amazon (AMZN) and Walmart (WMT) are the other American corporate giants that have been enticed by the attractive growth opportunity in India. Amazon is spending more than $5.0 billion to grow its business in India, while Walmart last year acquired Flipkart for $16 billion to expand its retail operations in the country.

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