Sales of Apple products sans iPhones to dip; used-car platforms tap ancillary sources for revenue

Though sales of Apple iPhones in India are skyrocketing and outperforming the broader smartphone market, shipments of other Apple products are likely to take a hit this year, suggest analysts. This and more in today’s ETtech Morning Dispatch.

Also in this letter:
■ Govt mulling risk-based age-gating norms
■ Mamaearth parent’s Q2 profit nearly doubles
■ The over-reliance on a single Gen-AI tool


iPhone’s the Apple of its maker’s eyes as its siblings enter fall season


Sales of the four other major devices in the Apple ecosystem other than the iPhone — Macs, iPads, AirPods, and Apple Watches — are all set to decline this year, analysts and sellers estimate. This comes even as the sale of iPhones outperforms the overall smartphone market.

Data decoded: Shipments of Macs will likely fall 15% to 18% in 2023 while iPad sales might contract 6% to 8%, analysts at technology market research firm Counterpoint told ET. Shipments of AirPods and Apple Watches will likely decline by over 50%, they added. In contrast, the iPhone is set to end the year with a 50% increase in shipments over 2022.


Pricing knots: The biggest hindrance to growth in the sale of non-iPhone devices is price, analysts and sellers told ET. iPads and Macs retail from Rs 32,900 to over Rs 1,70,000. The “sweet spot” where most tablet sales happen is closer to the Rs 20,000 mark, while for laptops it is between Rs 30,000 and Rs 40,000, analysts say. Similar price disparity plagues the sale of Airpods and Apple Watches.

Choices galore: Of the overall laptop market, 30% to 35% comprises bulk enterprise sales for office work, where the cheaper Lenovo and Dell brands are preferred, while inertia against moving away from the Windows operating system also hurts. In both the TWS and wearable segments, brands like Boat and Boult constantly offer a plethora of cheaper options that customers prefer.


Used car startups seek new routes as revenue tanks


New-age used-car platforms such as Cars24, Spinny, CarDekho, and CarTrade Tech have increased efforts to generate revenue from ancillary sources like auto financing, insurance, and classifieds after witnessing a palpable slowdown in growth last fiscal.

Double-clicking: According to people tracking the sector, these firms faced a slowdown as the “growth-at-all-costs” push by venture-backed companies took a backseat and they started focusing on improving unit economics by controlling expenses. Tweaking of business models continued into the current fiscal 2024 as well.


Tell me more:

  • Cars24 decided to focus on existing retail markets; it has increased attention to value-added services like financing and insurance.
  • CarTrade Tech – which acquired classifieds portal OLX from Prosus earlier this year – shut down its C2B vertical, and plans an increased push on the classifieds business.

Yes, but: The slowdown for the new-age companies in the space was primarily caused by their pulling back on spending, and it happened even as the broader market for used cars continued to expand in India. According to industry sources, used-car sales rose 27% in FY23 to 5.45 million units.


Government to spell out ‘risk-based’ plan for social media age-gating


The government is planning a definitive “risk-based” framework with multiple options for social media and internet intermediaries to ensure age-gating and parental consent management, sources told ET. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and edtech and health platforms, among others, will have to adopt it.

Quote, unquote: “There cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach here,” an official said. “Social media companies will need to adhere to stricter age-gating as the possibility of a stranger getting in touch with children or vice-versa is much greater here, compared to say an education app or a website.”

How can it be done? Age-verification of children – users below the age of 18 – could be done through documents stored either in DigiLocker, an Aadhaar-based process, a digital token, or at the app store level, depending on the risk of a child’s data being possibly misused and the likely harm.

For social media intermediaries – where the risk of a child getting in touch with a stranger is higher – the age verification is likely to be much stricter with a multiple-layer authentication process in place, one of the officials said.

Pushback: The provision has seen sustained pushback from industry executives who have raised concerns about the privacy implications of the tools or identification methods that may be used to establish the correct age of children and their connection with the parent.


Honasa Q2 profit nearly doubles to Rs 29 crore; revenue up 21%

Varun Alagh and Ghazal Alagh, cofounders, Mamaearth

Honasa Consumer, which operates the Mamaearth brand, on Wednesday reported a 93% growth in its net profit to Rs 29.4 crore for the quarter ended September 2023.

Revenue up: Revenue from operations rose 21% on year to Rs 496 crore. The strong revenue and profit show was driven by volume growth of 27% on year. In the same period, EBITDA stood at Rs 40 crore, up 53% on year.

Offline focus: Honasa said it is continuing to focus on strong offline distribution as well. As per NielsenIQ, brands of Honasa Consumer retailed at 1.65 lakh offline outlets in September 2023, an on-year rise of 47% in offline distribution.

Also read | Mamaearth IPO: Meet Ghazal and Varun Alagh, cofounders of Honasa Consumer

IPO details: On November 7, Honasa Consumer listed on the bourses at a slim 2% premium to the issue price. The stock opened at Rs 330 on NSE as against the IPO price of Rs 324. On the BSE, it debuted at Rs 324.


OpenAI spat highlights perils of leaning on a single GenAI tool


Technology and startup executives in India are calling to reduce their dependence on the use of a single Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) tool in the wake of the recent turmoil at OpenAI, the world’s most important AI company.

Here’s what some of them had to say

  • Krish Ramineni, co-founder & CEO of Fireflies.ai: All of a sudden as a founder, my first question is — Is the service going to be stable? Are the new updates going to continue to come? And what if they dramatically pull back? And then my next question is, okay, so how do we not want your entire company built around one endpoint?
  • Aakrit Vaish, cofounder and CEO of Haptik: Whatever will happen, the core OpenAI APIs and technology will continue to survive and thrive. In a worst-case scenario, there will be some way in which people can easily migrate from direct OpenAI integration to Azure integration, in which case you become a Microsoft customer or partner.

Sam Altman is back: Capping five days of high-voltage drama, ChatGPT-maker OpenAI said it is bringing back Sam Altman as its CEO, and also reconstituting its board to be led by former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor. OpenAI cofounder, Greg Brockman, who had also quit the OpenAI board, is also back.


Exclusive: Adobe acquires Indian generative AI startup Rephrase.ai

(L-R) Rephrase.ai cofounders Ashray Malhotra, Nisheeth Lahoti and Shivam Mangla

Computer software giant Adobe has acquired Bengaluru-based Rephrase.ai, which runs an AI-powered video creation platform, according to an internal memo circulated by the US software major.

Deal details: As part of the deal, a majority of Rephrase’s team members will join Adobe, sources aware of the talks told us.

With the acquisition, Rephrase’s investors will likely be given a complete cash exit, with the founders being paid in cash and Adobe stock. We could not ascertain the final deal size.

Why it is significant: This marks the first-ever deal for Adobe in the generative AI and video-tooling space. It also makes Rephrase the first Indian startup to be acquired by Adobe, which has largely struck such deals in its home market, the US, and in Europe.


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