Apple is giving its Indian customers the capability to order customised versions of its entire range of computing devices. The configure-to-order and build-to-order options would be available for the MacBook Air (click to buy), Mac Mini, iMac and other computers.
Under the scheme customers from India would be able to request custom needs such as enhanced memory and storage or inclusion of more powerful graphics cards when they purchase a machine from Apple.
This is the first time that Apple would be offering customisation of their products in the Indian market, in spite of the fact that users in India had been requesting the CTO and BTO features that have been part of the company's package in several countries. Apple has never offered its entire bouquet of computing devices in the country and most upgrades were sought once the customers got their hands on the machines.
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Has it come too late though?
An official working for one of Apple's service delivery across the south of India believes that this move by the Cupertino-based tech giant should have come much earlier. "Take a look at the grey market operations and how much the company tends to lose because customers usually go to upgrade their Macs to these shops located in major cities such as Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad," the official says requesting anonymity.
For Apple, India has shifted from being on the periphery in the first decade of the new millennium to being a key market. Tim Cook had said during an investor call late in 2019 that emerging markets led by India, Brazil, Thailand, Turkey and Mainland China had seen double-digit growth during the December quarter.
What do the users get?
A notice on the Apple India website says customers interested to get upgrades or want to customise their purchases could get in touch with local Apple authorised resellers various options and calculate what they would have to pay for enhancing a graphics card or simply adding some memory to their preferred machine.
The company is promising delivery within four to five weeks after orders are placed and payments made. In the past, customers had no choice but to go with base models of the computing devices, which means a MacBook Pro would only have 8GB of RAM.
Would it really change things?
However, it remains to be seen whether the stiff pricing that Apple is quoting for such upgrades could still prove a dampener for many users. For example, the company is charging $400 for an extra 16 GB of RAM, but a trip to Bangalore's grey market could result in savings of up to 30-50% on such a deal. Of course, there is no warranty once you get the device opened by uncertified hands.
How Tim Cook's Apple sees it differently
From the company's perspective, this only shows that Apple and its CEO Tim Cook are serious about India as a market. Cook had waxed eloquent about how customers in the country were boosting sales of both iPhones and iPads over most of 2019.
That growth might have been driven by the multiple price cuts that Apple brought in for the iPhone XR, but the fact remains that Apple as a brand has matured enough for Cook to consider shifting production to India and also committing to open its own online stores in the country.
The iPhone 11 series (click to buy) also saw good traction amongst the Indian customers, given that the device was priced aggressively and Apple followed a sound channel strategy to drive its sales. Immediately after this success, Apple announced that it would be bringing the HomePod smart speaker to India to compete with Google Home and the Amazon Echo.
Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic may have stymied sales but the fact remains that Apple is bullish nonetheless and the next twelve months could see the company bringing more of its products and services to India. Who knows, Apple TV Plus could soon join the Bollywood bandwagon and take on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
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A media veteran who turned a gadget lover fairly recently. An early adopter of Apple products, Raj has an insatiable curiosity for facts and figures which he puts to use in research. He engages in active sport and retreats to his farm during his spare time.