In most countries, the iPhone is the most expensive smartphone you can buy. The iPhone’s price can be quite prohibitive in certain markets where Apple would like to see growth, including China and India, and the company is apparently aware of the problem. Without committing to anything, Apple CEO Tim Cook said during his visit in India that Apple is considering making a cheaper iPhone, but he insisted that the company’s priority is shipping quality products.
NDTV’s Vikram Chandra asked Cook whether the iPhone is really worth the expence in India.
“It’s expensive,” the host said. “Even in dollar terms, it’s expensive because you have taxes in India, and then you don’t necessarily have all the functionality that you would in the US. So you’ve got an iPhone here which is more expensive than it is in the US, with less functionality than you would have in the US, and in a country where purchasing power is a fraction of what it is in the US.”
Cook replied, “The challenge there is the duties and the taxes and the sort of compounding of those, it takes a price, and it makes it very high. Our profitability in is less in India, materially less. But still I recognize that prices are high.”
“We want to do things that lower that over time to the degree that we can, so we’re looking at a number of different things. What we wouldn’t do is lower our quality bar,” he continued.
This seems to be an indication that the company is considering lowering the iPhone price to make it more affordable in some markets. One way to do it is launching older iPhone models in India and similar markets, which have lower entry prices.
Apple could also sell refurbished iPhones in the region — the ones it obtains via its upgrade program — however India recently stopped the company from moving forward with such plans.
Apple’s iPhone SE is currently the cheapest new iPhone in Apple’s lineup, a relative steal in the US. The price will likely go down in coming years, both in the US and other markets, as Apple launches newer iPhone models. Cook still said that Apple will not compete in very low price ranges, but the iPhone prices could come down in the future.
“I want the consumer in India to be able to buy at a price that looks like the US price,” he said. “That would be my objective. And I want the user experience to have all the services.”
Cook’s full interview follows below.