It's been a week since Apple released its latest smartphone — the iPhone SE — in India. However, a lukewarm response from consumers towards Apple's budget phone has prompted the company to rethink its sales strategy in the region.
In a bid to boost the sales of the iPhone SE in India, Apple is trying to woo corporates by offering lease and financing plans. The marketing ploy is similar to the one Apple adopted to lure business customers into purchasing iPads.
Consumers in India have not taken an immediate shine to the iPhone SE largely owing to the smartphone's lofty pricing — it is priced at Rs. 39,000 (approximately $587), as well as its smaller screen size.
As part of the corporate leasing program from Apple, the 16 GB iPhone SE will cost customers Rs. 999 (approximately $15) per month for 24 months according to the company's newspaper advertisement which was published on Tuesday.
The program also lists plans for the 16 GB variants of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6s, which will cost consumers Rs. 1,199 (approximately $18) and Rs. 1,399 (approximately $21) per month, respectively for a 24-month lease period.
The program directed at corporate users aims to propel bulk sales. Apple is optimistic that this strategy will make the iPhone SE more viable for consumers in India.
Apple vendors in India have revealed that they have been briefed that the iPhone SE needs to come across as more affordable. The strategy from Apple will hopefully, be successful in pushing sales volumes in the country.
The iPhone SE is Apple's gamble at conquering emerging markets such as India. However, the smartphone's steep pricing has come under severe criticism from market experts. While the 16 GB variant of the smartphone sells for $399 in the U.S., it is $188 more expensive in the price sensitive Indian market.
It is believed Apple is looking to decrease the price of the iPhone SE once it has gotten rid of the existing inventory of the older iPhone 5s, which was imported in Q4 2015.
While Apple may be hoping to lock-in Indian consumers for over two years within its ecosystem, the trend that Indian consumers upgrade or change their handsets every eight months may be a hurdle.
Analysts, too, are skeptical whether the corporate leasing program for the iPhone SE will help boost sales for the company.
"We have seen similar exciting offers on iPhone 6, 6s, iPad but it hasn't helped to drive sales in millions. India is a market where more than $500 smartphone contributes only 2 percent of sales, moreover buyers are also price conscious. People look at overall cost not just monthly cost," notes Anshul Gupta, Director at Gartner Inc.
The leasing program for the iPhone SE is restricted only to corporates. To avail the offer, corporates need to get in touch with the company by emailing Apple at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once the corporate signs the agreement with Apple, its employees will be able to take advantage of the lease program.