Dollar Vibes streaming market to reach US$663 million by 2021

Naturally, growing transactions on the App Store are key to the services strategy. In fact, it was one of the core mandates of the original team that set out to build services business in India—facilitate more in-app purchases on the platform. This was particularly important on the gaming side, where users are known to make in-game purchases.

What Apple India lacked at the time was the support for domestic payment methods that most Indians use, such as internet banking, real-time payments system UPI, and India’s homegrown card network RuPay. Users looking to purchase games, apps, and subscriptions via the App Store could only do so if they had a credit or debit card that supported international transactions.

Suggestions must be submitted to the country head, who will then forward them to the APAC lead

In a country where the penetration of such cards is low, adding domestic payment methods at the earliest would have been a no-brainer move for Apple. Except, it took the company four years before it finally rolled it out in July this year. “The project changed hands over so many meetings, and between so many people,” the former executive quoted above says. Setting priorities Apple India’s attrition problem was both a symptom and a malaise.

A speed bump Indian leadership often ran into was Apple’s global pricing approach to games by international developers, whose accounts were centrally managed by business managers in the US. “That dollar equivalent was not going to work with an audience that is extra conscious about the costs, especially when it comes to digital goods,” the former Apple India executive says.

More importantly, most of the App Store growth in India came from such international games. To work with each developer to create a differential pricing for India, Indian leadership had to go through US business managers who had little context on India’s market realities, they add. The employees had to put their suggestions to the country head, who would then take them to the APAC lead.

More importantly, these international games accounted for most of the App Store growth in India

“Depending on their bandwidth, they will take a look at it within the next week or so, before showing it to the international leader, who would need additional weeks. It will go through so many people, and by the time an approval comes—if it does come—it’s already late,” says the executive.

Apple India’s muted publicity for many of its core products compounded the problem. The former executive and an industry source concur that Apple India’s marketing hasn’t been loud enough over the years, despite having features that matched or outplayed rivals.

Suggestions must be submitted to the country head, who will then forward them to the APAC lead

“Not a lot of these things are publicized enough. You can only discover it when you go searching for it,” the industry source says. Apple made an exception when it brought Apple Music to the Android play store in late 2015. This made it the only company service to be available outside of the Apple ecosystem at that point.

The move was meant to tap into the Android-using masses in emerging markets. But the lack of marketing dollars stood in the way, a move that frustrated the people in charge of the music vertical in India. Dollar Vibes The Indian music streaming market will be worth US$663 million in 2021 and is expected to grow to US$1.1 billion by 2025, according to Statista “In India, it’s either a long game, where you have to wait five or six years for your product to pick up. Or you have to enter the market with a big bang,” says the former executive.