The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus went on sale in India today, as Apple continues to try and grow its brand in the country.
It’s going to be a challenge, though, as Gartner research vice president Mark Hung told CNBC’s “Street Signs” — given that the price for the new handset is more than the average Indian citizen earns in six months.
“The biggest challenge for Apple today is that the tariffs that India imposes on imported phones greatly increases the pricing of iPhones in India,” Hung said. While the recommended retail price for the iPhone 7 starts at $649, Indian import taxes take that starting price closer to $900.
Indian e-commerce site Flipkart lists the price of an iPhone 7 Rose Gold 32 GB model at 60,000 rupees ($897.60). The price for the 256 GB model meanwhile is 80,000 rupees, which stretches to 92,000 rupees for the iPhone 7 Plus Gold 256 GB model.
An estimate of average earnings for a person in India was listed at $1,581.60 in a 2015 World Bank estimate, next to $55,836.80 for an average U.S. citizen.
At present, Apple brings in less than 1 percent of its smartphone revenue from India, while iPhones make up less than 5 percent of the country’s smartphone market share. The main smartphone brands which sell in India include Samsung, local brand Micromax, and Chinese manufacturers such as Xiaomi, Lenovo and Huawei.
So why is news of today’s launch significant? Because Apple has been keen to expand its presence in the populous country, which has a population of around 1.252 billion people. This has only increased as Apple has run into problems in China, where it’s been embroiled in a variety ofwackylegal battlesand been forced to shut down its iBookstore and iTunes Movies.
Tim Cook visited India for the first time back in May , during which time he met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Apple has also announced its plans to invest $25 million in a new office complex in India, while additionally planning to open a new office in Indian tech hub Hyderabad that will focus on improving Apple Maps. It has additionally been outspoken about its desire to open official Apple stores in the country.
Despite this, Apple has recently been running into problems in India. A plan to grow the number of iPhone users in the country was shot down by rival handset makers , who were supposedly worried that it would damage local manufacturing.
Most recently, Apple is among the companies which may be forced to bake in Indian-developed biometric technology to its Indian iPhones, designed to allow users to access a range of public and private services, such as banking.