When Apple launched its $1000 iPhones in India, the company was heavily criticised for its ever increasing prices. Charging $1000 and upwards for a phone in India can only be seen in one way - Apple wants to target only the ultra premium smartphone buyers or the hardcore fans who probably save money all year long just to afford an iPhone. Apple did introduce affordable EMIs in India with its various partners for those who absolutely want to own a flagship iPhone, and the likes of Flipkart even run guaranteed buyback programmes for these devices, however, to say India is a price sensitive market would be an understatement. Because of this price sensitivity, Apple’s Korean and Chinese rivals managed to gain an upper hand and iPhone sales reportedly saw a drop in India for the first time in four years in 2018.
Speaking to CNBC’s Jim Cramer in an Interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook dismissed the possibility of a cheaper iPhone for the Indian market when Cramer asked him about allowing Walmart-Flipkart to subsidise the handsets in the country. Cramer indicated that he spoke to folks over at Walmart and they possibly expressed an interest in an arrangement with Apple to take over India with a budget iPhone. When asked what Cook thought about the proposal, he said, “For us, we’re about making the best product that enriches people’s lives. We’re not about making the cheapest. We want to make a great value but that’s not necessarily the cheapest. What we’ve seen is that there’s enough people in every country in the world that we play in that we can have a really good business by selling the best phones. We knew that when we went to the the iPhone X and the follow up with the XS and XS Max, that everybody would not want to spend a $1000 for the phone and so we made the iPhone XR.”
A question on letting Flipkart subsidise the iPhone was left unanswered and instead, Cook pointed to the fact that India is a very important market for Apple. The CEO said, “In India in general, we’re all in. It is a major focus. If you look at how we’ve done over the years, we’ve gone from a $100-200 million dollar business to last year we exceeded $2 billion that 2 billion was flat year over year so we have more work to do.” Cook also expressed the company’s desire to open up retail stores in India and that he would like to see cuts in some duties and taxes in the country. “We would like to put stores there, we would like some of the duties and so forth that are put on the products to go away. We are working closely with the team there. I believe we will have better results at some point in the future there,” He said.
After talking about Apple’s India strategy, the conversation in the interview moves towards Apple’s ongoing patent conflict with Qualcomm. In a shocking statement, the Apple CEO accuses Qualcomm of spreading fake news. Cook said that contrary to reports, Apple has not been in any settlement talks with Qualcomm since Q3 2018. “The issue that we have with Qualcomm is that they have a policy of no license no chips. This is in our view is illegal and so many regulators in so many countries agree with us. Secondly, they have an obligation to offer their patent portfolio in a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory manner and they don’t do that. They charge exorbitant prices,” he said. He also added that he has an issue with some of Qualcomm’s tactics like “paying somebody to write fake news and then promoting it”.
You can catch Tim Cook’s entire interview with CNBC’s Cramer at this link.