Why is the Apple iPhone 5C outselling the Samsung Galaxy S4 in India?

This guest post was contributed by Asif Shaik.

The Apple iPhone 5C is perhaps one of the most curious releases in 2013. When it was released most tech pundits called it Apple’s appeal to the middle segment customers. With its colourful exterior, few called it Apple’s answer to the rise of Nokia Lumia phones. However, despite most of the hullaballoo, the iPhone 5C has been more or less a quiet player in the smartphone segment. That is if you believe the vague predictions put out by most bloggers or by the fact that one Foxconn factory actually cut short production of iPhone 5C from 50000 to a meagre 8000 units a day.

However, new statistics seem to show that iPhone 5C has found itself a new set of market in India (http://www.indianexpress.com/news/new-apple-iphone-5s-5c-doing-much-better-than-samsung-galaxy-s4/1199254/). The colourful replacement to the iPhone 5 is doing exceptionally well in comparison to the leading flagship competitor, Samsung Galaxy S4. While no actual figures have been mentioned in either the news reports or subsequent follow ups, the fact needn’t be entirely untrue.

The iPhone 5C should ideally outsell the Samsung Galaxy S4 and here’s why:

1. Price vs. Brand Paradox

The Average Indian is a bargain hunter and yet in several aspects is also an aspirant. The iPhone still remains the most coveted object among most middle class people, more so among the urban youth. It is no surprise that globally Apple is the strongest brand, the same isn’t very different in India. The Apple iPhone 5C price in India is roughly Rs. 37,499 ($602), a hefty price to pay for a smartphone, yet for the Apple brand, a paltry figure. In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S4 costs 31,999 and should ideally be a favourite among customers but fails to invoke the same sense of brand recognition as the iPhone. Interestingly it is this paradox that keeps premium customers from buying Android, which is why HTC One Max will never sell as many units as the iPhone 5C or iPhone 5S.

2. The BuyBack

Apple hadn’t trained its sights on the Indian market for almost 3 years of iPhone launches. More often Indians would procure the iPhone 3GS through their relatives in the US or buy from black-market sellers who sold at exorbitant rates. With the iPhone 4, Apple had made its tentative steps to India, launching in association with network carriers and controlling prices as much as possible. In 2013, Apple has completely changed the game with the Buy Back offer. Apple now offers the expensive iPhones at massive discounts for those willing to part with their old smartphone. Apple has won both customer loyalties as well as reduced the presence of competition with this strategy. Users now can get as much as Rs 7000 for giving their old smartphone and usually this means the S3 user has been swayed to buy an iPhone. A valuable strategy that has no doubt helped Apple’s rise in India.

3. Carrier Tie up

One of the chief reasons for Apple’s domination in the USA and Europe is their tie up with local telecom carriers and subsequent carrier bundling has crashed the price of iPhone, making it extremely affordable. In India, Apple has only recently applied the same strategy with alliances with India’s largest telecom players, Airtel and Reliance Communications. Users can get 16 GB iPhone 5C for free or pay Rs 11,600 for the 32 GB edition. Users can then pay EMI of Rs 2599 for the next 2 years and also get a bundled cell phone plan with unlimited SMS, Internet Data and Calls. Clearly, for the aspirational user, this deal is too good to be true. The fact that no Android phone currently provides a similar plan makes the iPhone 5S and 5C far more accessible to customers. Although the brand Nexus has had increase in its popularity for being value for money factor and trust that comes from Google after LG Nexus 4 released last year, it is nowhere close to the iPhone.

4. Advertising

Unlike its typical marketing philosophy in US, Apple has invested quite a lot of amount in Marketing in India. Television channels have been continuously airing the famed iPhone 5C advertising. Apple in fact seem to be airing more ads of the iPhone 5C than the iPhone 5S. Probably in an attempt to create brand recall and familiarise users with the Colourful alternative to the Nokia Lumia series, which is also gaining significant attention among Indian consumers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heV0CNzC9OI


Apple has clearly warmed up to the Indian marketplace. With its global presence slightly waning, India and China both provide great growth avenues for Apple. The iPhone 5S and 5C both satisfy the aspirational needs of the Indian youth and with the BuyBack offers as well as Carrier bundling, Apple has convinced buyers of its accessibility. The iPhone is slowly moving from being an unattainable dream to an affordable luxury, something that belonged to the likes of Samsung’s Flagship Android devices. It is no surprise thus that the iPhone 5C has surpassed the Samsung Galaxy S4.