Ex-Apple CEO: Apple won't pip Samsung in India [Hardware] [Times of India]
(Times of India Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) NEW DELHI: John Sculley, the former chief of Apple, says though smartphones is a "two horse-race globally", Samsung is better placed to trump even a full-fledged Apple operation in India.
On a visit to India last week to promote his private equity firm's three business interests in the country and scout for more, Sculley did not mind dwelling on the prospects of the iconic computer firm he presided over from 1983 to 1993, a stint marked by Apple's revenues growing 10-fold to $8 billion and an overt power struggle with its illustrious founder Steve Jobs.
Speaking about Apple now "as an observer", he saw pricing as the deal-breaker in the Indian smartphone market. "Somebody will have to lower the price to crack the Indian market. I think Samsung will come out with a $100 (about Rs 5,000) smart-phone," the 73-year-old told ET. "Apple won't make it that cheap. I cannot imagine Apple compromising on the principles of Steve Jobs -- elegance of design, great hardware and quality."
Sculley's corporate career, spanning nearly five decades, has seen spectacular successes and flameouts. At 30, he became the youngest vice-president of Pepsi in 1970, when it set out to dethrone Coca-Cola, in what is now known as the 'cola wars'. At 37, he was named Pepsi's youngest-ever president. Then came Apple, after which Sculley has been associated with a string of businesses, some of which went bankrupt and some of which have been spectacular exits (like 3G wireless services provider MetroPCS, travel portal hotwire.comand products portal buy.com).
Since 1995, he has been a partner at Florida-based PE firm Sculley Brothers and is eyeing businesses targeted at India's youth. "This is the right time in India," he says. "I find business ideas targeting the 25-30 years bracket as the ones to invest in and that's what I'm doing here."
Sculley is looking to invest $100 million in Indian start-ups this year. Seven months ago, Sculley co-founded e-commerce company changemytyre.com. Last November, he invested in Iris Computers, a Delhi-based distributor of electronic gadgets, and is looking to close another acquisition in IT this quarter.
For all that, Sculley is still best know for his Apple association. He told ET that Apple products (iPhone and iPad) took off around the world because 3G services were good and reliable. "That was not the case in India and India was never a priority for Apple."
And even though 3G is around the corner in India, and even though Sculley feels the country is at the cusp of a mobile Internet and e-commerce wave driven by low-cost smart-phones, he doesn't see Apple taking a large bite. "At $800 a piece for an iPhone, that's unlikely to be mass market in India."
Globally, Samsung has a 23% market share in smart-phones, compared to Apple's 5.5%, according to Gartner. Apple does not share country-specific market share figures. That said, Apple seems less perturbed by market share as it corners 80% of profits in the smart-phone business, says Sculley.
Apple won't lower costs, adds Sculley, but it will differentiate with end-to-end offerings -- software, hardware and apps. "The future in smart-phones is for companies who can tie up all three on their own, like Apple has," he says. "Samsung depends on Android (the operating system from Google) and that will have to change as it grows bigger. And that's where Nokia, Sony and HTC are falling behind."
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