Google Turns Heat on Apple Inc. in India as Fight for Smartphone Market Continues

Taj Mahal India

The recent block of Apple’s iTunes and iBooks service in China shows how difficult the Chinese smartphone market has always been hard to predict. As such the two most valuable companies in the world are looking for new markets to expand in and India being the second most populous nation is a target for their smartphone market goals.

During Apple’s earnings call, the company revealed that sales in India had gone up by an impressive 56 percent which meant it helped alleviate the downfall in the Chinese market. Google, on the other hand, is banned from working in China. However, they just signed a new deal in India that allows smartphone users to purchase stuff such as digital books, apps and games and the bill will be paid by the phone balance. This is the first carrier billing deal signed in India by Google.

The deal Google signed is with India’s Idea Cellular, which means users of both Android and the network service can now buy apps and games on the Google Android Store without having a credit card. The news is a big step forward for Google considering that phone users in the country are expanding by 20 percent every year, and yet only 2 percent of residents have a credit card, according to MasterCard.

Google Play’s head of business development in India said most users did not have ready-made methods of paying for apps and games though they still downloaded lots of them. He also said it was a good opportunity for local entrepreneurs and companies to make good use of the Play Store.

The cellular carrier involved in the deal, Idea, is working with a UK based provider of carrier billing software, Bango, to help with integrating the new technology needed for the deal. A Bango spokesperson refused to comment on the issue. Other companies which offer carrier billing in the country include Facebook, Microsoft’s Windows Store, and Saavn, a music streaming service.

Smartphone market is very competitive

Apple is making efforts to expand its user base in the country. So far statistics show that they only have 2 percent of the entire smartphone market in the country. Android is the dominant operating system. Apple is reportedly planning to open stores in the country to help people get more of the company in India.

Clearly the two companies are focused on different markets in the country. For Apple, it’s about selling devices, while for Google it’s the app market while Android claims the biggest share in the smartphone market.

Google has seen carrier deals with over 100 carriers in 41 markets, compared to Apple, which in the past seven months just introduced the feature to two countries, Russian, and Germany. The two strategies are seen on the market. An iPhone in India costs $500, but for Android devices, the lowest prices from device manufacturers such as Huawei and Alcatel cost as low as $100.