Apple Inc had a great start to 2021 in India.
In the first three months of this year, the Cupertino giant recorded its best-ever quarterly sales of notebook and tablets in the country, data from Singapore-based market research firm Canalys show. The premium brand’s total PC sales doubled to 208 million units between January and March this year compared to the same period last year.
Apple’s growth was “largely aided by the availability of its official online store,” Canalys noted in its June 8 press release.
Years after lobbying for a brick-and-mortar presence in India—which is yet to see the light of day—Apple launched its official online store in the country in the second half of 2020. The move was heralded as apt and timely by experts. CEO Tim Cook credited the online store for the company’s stellar iPhone sales in India in 2020.
It’s important to note that some of the growth for all original equipment makers (OEMs) this year is less to do with a fantastic 2021 and more to do with a disastrous 2020. Last year, the global supply of electronics took a hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic as factories were shut—particularly in China, which makes for over 80% of the world’s laptops are manufacturing—and there were international flight restrictions in many parts of the world, which made cargo movements slow.
After recovering from this supply chain collapse, several OEMs clocked impressive performances.
Overall, PC sales in India, including tablets, grew 72% year-on-year to reach 4 million units between January and March 2021. Remote work and learning aided the massive growth in the segment.
HP bagged the pole position, dethroning Hong Kong-based Lenovo, which avoided competing over government tenders due to concerns of bias with respect to geopolitical tensions between India and China, Canalys noted.
Like in Apple’s case, overall, too, desktops were the least popular and notebooks were the most.
Shipments of “gaming-capable” machines grew almost 65% year-on-year as the pandemic gave rise to a need for new forms of entertainment, as movie theaters, theme parks, pubs, and restaurants were closed for much of the year, Canalys noted.
But this fillip could be short-lived. India, which is still clawing its way out of a brutal second wave, remains in a precarious position.
“The second COVID wave has been ruthless, claiming many more lives and livelihoods than the first wave, forcing India to pause almost all economic activity. For PCs, the entire channel has been paralysed, and despite healthy demand from consumers and businesses alike, fulfilling orders was the primary issue once again,” said Canalys research analyst Ashweej Aithal. Apple has said its MacBook and iPad production is witnessing delays due to global component shortages.
Perhaps the biggest hope right now is domestic production—something Apple and others were already considering amid the rising anti-China sentiment last year. In February, the government approved Rs7,350 crore ($1 billion) Production-Linked Incentive scheme for laptops, tablets, all-in-one PCs, and servers. The idea is to lure overseas players to invest in Indian manufacturing facilities to boost domestic exports and employment.
Canalys expects most Original Design Manufacturers and OEMs to take advantage of this route, as the long-term outlook for India is still strong.