Apple appoints veteran to revive sluggish India sales
An iPhone at a kiosk in Mumbai. Tim Cook has been emphasising the importance of India as a smartphone market.
In a sudden development, Apple has appointed veteran company executive Michel Coulomb as new head of sales for India - a country where the Cupertino-based iPhone maker is trying hard to ramp up its numbers.
Coulomb will replace current country head Sanjay Kaul who has moved on, industry sources said on Tuesday, adding that Kaul, who was elevated as country head in May last year, stepped down with an immediate effect.
According to Coulomb's Linkedin profile, he earlier led Apples operations in Middle East, Turkey and Africa before moving into Singapore last year as managing director for Apple in South Asia. Coulomb has been with the Apple since 2003.
Kaul's resignation comes at a time when Apple is trying to improve its sales numbers - including iPhone X - in the country.
"Apple has been under pressure since the iPhone X launch as supply issues hampered its sales in India. Although we can't link Kaul's resignation with this yet but yes, the company has had sluggish sales in recent months," Jaipal Singh, senior analyst, IDC India, said.
Apple introduced its much-awaited iPhone X in India on November 3 amid heavy demand but only a few from those who had pre-booked it in the first slot received their units as retailers and online players were handed over a thin supply of the ?89,000 (starting price) device on day one.
According to industry analysts, the waiting period was going to be at least five to seven weeks for those who didn't book the device in the first slot.
"Demand for iPhone X was very strong in India. However, right from day one, it was obvious that users eager to buy iPhone X are in for a long waiting queue," Tarun Pathak, associate director, mobile devices and ecosystems, Counterpoint Research, said.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been emphasising on the importance of India as a smartphone market for the company.
During a call with investors in November this year, Cook said that revenue from emerging markets outside of greater China was up 40 per cent, with great momentum in India where revenue doubled year over year (YoY).
But unlike global markets, the Indian market is quite price-sensitive and with Samsung and now OnePlus, the premium segment has become quite competitive for Apple.
After the government hiked customs duty from 10 per cent to 15 per cent for mobile handsets last week, Apple on Monday became the first smartphone manufacturer to raise prices (on MRP) across iPhone models, except iPhone SE that the company assembles in Bengaluru.
The iPhone maker is also seeking tax relief and other incentives from the government to begin assembling more handsets in the country.
Apple is currently assembling the iPhone SE model at its Bengaluru facility with Wistron Corporation.