Will Apple Ever Find a Cure to This Headache?

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) launch of the iPad mini has been seen as the company’s attempt to reach more consumers in established markets and expand its footprint in emerging markets like China, Brazil, and India. But the $329 tablet may not make much of an impact in India, where even cheaper local tablets pose serious rivalries for Apple.

While the iPad mini is only likely to arrive in India around the end of the year, competitors are already starting to extend their reach. In the June quarter, local company Micromax Informatics overtook Apple as the leading supplier of tablets in the country with a 23 percent share. Micromax’s best-selling Funbook is priced between 6,000 rupees, or $111, and 8,000 rupees, $149. Apple had an 18 percent share in the quarter, according to IDC. Indian companies HCL Infosystems and United Telelinks also have seven-inch tablets that are beginning to gain popularity. Even the government has produced its own tablet, the Aakash Ubislate, which sells for less than a tenth of the price of the cheapest iPad.

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While the local tablets lack the iPad’s responsive touch interface, its superior memory, better processing speed, and thousands of applications, consumers are willing to give up on the features to save money. The local manufacturers are now also working on improving the devices. “The last four months saw the local manufacturers revamping their tablet portfolio by improving the look and feel of the devices,” IDC analyst G. Rajeev told The Wall Street Journal. They’re also improving sales by entering into supply contracts with local and federal governments to reach schools.

While the iPad mini may find aspirational buyers in the country, it is not likely to make a big impact quickly enough. “It will definitely increase Apple’s sales volumes in India,” Gartner analyst Anshul Gupta told The WSJ. “But it will not really change the market in Apple’s favor completely.”

Apple has also not been able to make much of an impact in India with the iPhone, which sells for a high price and has to negotiate multiple layers of distributors. Samsung holds a 51 percent share of the country’s mobile handset market to Apple’s 1.2 percent.

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