Apple takes the fight to Samsung’s door in India

Apple takes the fight to Samsung’s door in IndiaWhat the iPhone 4 has done for Apple in the smartphone market, the iPad Mini is doing in the tablet segment — emerge a major challenger for market leader Samsung.

Having grown sales by more than 35% since February when the US firm rolled out a buyback scheme for the entry-level iPad Mini model, iPad has become Apple’s second largest selling product in India after iPhone, beating the MacBook computers , three trade partners of Apple told ET.

A senior executive with a trade partner said that Apple now wants to challenge Samsung in the tablet space like it is doing in premium smartphones. “iPad Mini is expected to be the game changer for Apple in the Indian tablet market space the way iPhone 4 has been able to bring newer consumers, which early this year even prompted the company to re-launch this globally defunct model in India,” the person said.

Trade partners said that in some channels, the entry-level iPad Mini Wi-Fi 16GB model has been sold out and fresh stock is likely to come only after a week. “The buyback offer has made the iPad Mini much more affordable and at par with the entry tablet models of Samsung and other multinational brands and matches the price of top-end portfolio of the Indian brands,” said Himanshu Chakrawarti, CEO at The Mobile Store, India’s largest mobility devices retail chain owned by the Essar Group.

“Hence, it now offers a compelling reason for consumers to buy,” he said. An e-mail query sent to Apple’s regional headquarters in London on Friday did not elicit any response till late on Sunday. Apple has been offering a minimum Rs 5,000 buyback offer going up to Rs 10,000 on the iPad Mini, which has brought down its entry price to less than Rs 17,000. Apple has been reimbursing retailers Rs 4,000 per unit under the buyback offer with the balance the retailer recovering by selling the old product in the second-hand market.

The aggressive promotion of iPad Mini is akin to what Apple did with iPhone 4 a year ago, which instantly cemented the brand as the second largest in the Indian smartphone market by value. This is the first major sales promotion for the tablet business by Apple in India after it merged the iPad team and operations with the iPhone team led by veteran telecom executive Sanjay Kaul.

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