Apple to play catchup with Samsung in India? Report says its beefing up distribution through partners

iPhone5Apple Inc seems to have changed its mind when it comes to selling in India. The company’s chief executive officer Tim Cook, who’d said earlier that “the multilayer distribution structure in the country adds cost to getting product to market,” and that “there would be larger opportunities outside” India is strengthening its distribution network in the country through partners.

Citing a person who has knowledge of Cupertino based Apple Inc’s India plans, a report in The Wall Street Journal blog says that the company will begin selling iPhones through “specialised distribution companies,” in India. The idea is to reach out to a wider audience, especially Indians who live in thousands of smaller towns, the report said.

If rumors are to be believed, the iPhone 5 will be launched ahead of Diwali and will retail in the range of Rs 44,000 – Rs 50,000.

According to the report, the device maker has already tied up with the local arm of technology distributor Ingram Micro Inc and Redingdon (India) Limited which has 12,000 small partners in the country.

Apple has had a tough time selling in India, a fast growing smartphone market which is mostly owned by Samsung, its chief rival. The Indian smartphone market is pegged to touch 18 million units in 2012 and Samsung has nearly 40 % share. The Korean phone-maker is looking to push its market share to 60 % in 2012.

In tablet sales,  cheaper tablets by Micromax sell most in India. In the second quarter of 2012, just over half a million tablets were shipped to India and out of that Mictomax leads the market with 18.4 % share followed by Samsung at 13.3 % and apple at 12.3 %.

At present Apple sells its products mostly through Imagine Stores and iStores in partnership with Indian companies like Reliance. The number of Apple outlets were rather limited in the country as they are largely sold in tier 1 cities. It was also selling products other than the iPhone through Redington and Ingram Micro. Now, however, iPhones will also be sold through these distributors that have a wider network. Telecom operators like Aircel and Airtel were also selling iPhones through their outlets.

Results of our previous web poll which asked readers if they’d switch to iPhone 5 soon

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