There’s a conscious shift in approach for Apple in India as we saw with Tim Cook’s crazy schedule earlier this year including a house party at Shahrukh Khan’s place and then an IPL cricket match in Kanpur followed by the official meeting with country’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. It’s clear that Bollywood and Cricket will form the core of Apple India’s strategy henceforth, and the latest Freedom Series on iTunes elucidates that.
Apple has teamed up with a set of popular Bollywood celebrities like Alia Bhatt, Karan Johar, Farah Khan and Salim-Sulaiman to curate and share the movies and music that changed their life and set them free, all on the occasion of 70th Indian Independence Day. Of course, they have shared these things on iTunes, so you’re just a click away from listening/watching the stuff they’ve shared.
Each of them have shared two movies and two songs: “The Film That Set Me Free“, “The Music That Set Me Free“, “My Film You Need to See” and “My Music You Need to Hear“. Some of the choices are pretty obvious, but few others are interesting. The choices range from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara to Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams to Black Hawk Down to Chak De! India.
With iPhone sales growth plateauing globally, India is the only shining star for Apple. Tim Cook had singled out India for the massive 51% growth year-on-year in the recent earnings call. Although majority of sales in India is coming from the cheaper iPhone 5s handset, the potential is immense as the market matures. Apple remains an aspirational brand for the masses, and with the economy expected to grow, Apple should be eyeing a considerable pie in the Indian smartphone market in coming year. It seems to be the latest step in Apple’s “Indianisation.” They say that anyone looking to capitalize on the Indian mobile space has got to get into the ABC Zone – Astrology and religion, Bollywood and Cricket. Apple seems to have opted for the B, perhaps something we were expecting when Tim Cook was seen at that Bollywood party.
The choice of artists is a little odd though. For if one takes a closer look at the list, it is a far cry from the rumors of Shahrukh Khan becoming an Apple brand ambassador. None of the four people selected can be called mainstream cult icons which some might say blends in with Apple’s niche positioning cult but then on the other hand, we are not too sure people think “Alia Bhatt” when they think Apple. It is a very odd step into Bollywood and given the fact that Cook was at an IPL match, I guess we should look forward to something in cricket next.
For us, the big thing here is that Apple seems to be trying to woo the Indian audience. It is an odd courtship – shades of the slightly aloof Mr Darcy asking Elizabeth to marry him in Pride and Prejudice after considering her family to be a little on the low side, but then we all know how happily THAT one ended. Apple must be hoping for something similar.
Nimish Dubey contributed for this post.