Slowing iPhone sales in India in the first half of 2018 have led to three high-ranking sales executives leaving Apple as the Cupertino firm revamps its sales operations in the country.
Among the executives who’ve departed are its national sales and distribution chief, the head of its commercial channels and mid-market business, and the head of telecom carrier sales, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. Apple’s Indian sales team is now undergoing a restructuring, one of the people said.
The executive exodus is a symptom of Apple’s persistent malaise in India, where high tariffs inflate the price tags of imported gadgets such as the iPhone and consumers gravitate toward cheaper alternatives from the likes of Xiaomi Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. Instead, the company resorts to marketing iPhones that are a few generations old and doesn’t manufacture its latest models domestically, thereby incurring import levies.
Apple reportedly sold 3.2 million iPhones in India in 2017, good enough for a 2% market share in the country. However, Apple continues to lose ground in India, as high tariffs on imported electronic goods limit its ability to compete with low-cost smartphone alternatives from other companies.
India announced in February that it would raise the tax on imported mobile phones from 15% to 20%, just two month after a previous tariff increase.
Apple started assembling their low-cost iPhone SE and iPhone 6S handsets in India in an effort to avoid import duties and keep their price lower, but their facilities are not as yet running at full-capacity. The iPhone maker’s latest models – the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X – are not manufactured in India, so they are still hit with the stiff import taxes.
Although Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly suggested India could be the next China, which is now Apple’s second largest market. However, the iPhone maker continues to see sluggish sales of its devices in the country.