Turn the clock back a few years and the MacBook — like almost every other Apple product — was an aspirational device. Unless you wanted to look cool, or were a ‘Pro’, the MacBook was out of your reach. More than the iPhone, Apple found it hard to crack the code in India with the MacBook. Not anymore though as MacBook sales in India have tripled in a year. Apple sold thrice as many MacBooks in India than it did in the previous year, as per a report by Digitimes, which cites data from Canalys. Canalys suggests that it was the opening of Apple’s online store that has led to this impressive spurt. Even IDC’s report last month revealed that compared to Q1 2020 Apple sold a lot more MacBooks in Q1 2021. According to IDC, Apple had shipped 38,000 units in Q1 2020 but the number jumped to 1,67,000 units in Q1 2021 — a growth of 335%. But there’s more to it than what actually meets the eye. We breakdown the MacBook’s ‘growth’ story in India:
The online store: Best place to buy a MacBook
Canalys is actually right in its analysis when it says that the online store may have played a crucial role in Apple selling more MacBooks than ever. Buying a MacBook — unlike any other Apple device — on the Apple online store is a different experience. The MacBook can be the most customised Apple purchase one can make. Apple gives you a plethora of options — in terms of RAM, storage, processor (for Intel Macs) — to customise the MacBook and choose a laptop that actually suits your needs. It’s something you can’t do at Apple reseller stores or from any other e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart. The built-to-order MacBook is a huge driving factor for many MacBook buyers and it’s only available on the Apple online store.
WFH: The work from home factor
It’s a cliche but quite true in this case that every crisis has an opportunity. The work from home phenomenon may have worked quite well for Apple and MacBooks in India. A lot of people had to rely on their laptops more than ever with video calls, online meetings, online classes and for all of those you need a machine that won’t let you down. At a starting price of Rs 92,990, the MacBook Air isn’t an affordable device but what it promises is longevity and much more than what you get for Windows PCs that cost around the same. Of course, there are ‘issues’ for first-time Mac buyers but the learning curve isn’t that steep. And once you’re in the Mac, you can’t go back that easily. We have often said that it might be relatively easier to shift from an iPhone to Android than it is from a Mac to Windows. MacBook has a tremendously loyal user base that keeps coming back to it — and in the WFH scenario, that might just have worked in Apple’s favour.
The M1 chip: The gamble that seems to have paid off
In November 2020, Apple ‘ditched’ Intel to make its own processor to power the MacBook and other Mac devices. The M1 processor makes the MacBook a different proposition than the Intel Macs used to. It’s super fast, gives you more if you are heavily invested in Apple devices and above all, it dramatically improved the battery life of MacBooks — a huge factor for people who buy premium laptops. Having a processor that isn’t found in any other laptop has also given the MacBook a distinctive factor.
Apple still has a long way to go when it comes to selling MacBooks in India. A report by IDC suggests that it is still the fifth biggest player in the country. Its market share, according to IDC, in the first quarter of 2021 was about 5.4%. Budget Windows laptops will continue to command the lion’s share in India for the foreseeable future. But Apple has made a dent in the premium space and might just be looking beyond the iPhone for the first time in many years to become a dominant player in India.