India, demonetization and the iPhone

 

If you had been following world news and especially news from the Indian sub-continent, the last few weeks, you must have heard of demonetization. It is India's latest effort to get rid off the country's biggest enemy, black money and corruption. The biggest of the country's denominations, the Rs. 500 and Rs. 2000 notes will no longer be valid and all the people pocessing these notes can exchange them for limited, newly minted high denomination currency notes or get cash deposited into their accounts. This way, the hope is to get rid of all of the country's black money which most likely exists in these legacy high denomination currency notes. 

Demonetization in India hopes to get rid of all of the country's black money which most likely exists in these legacy high denomination currency notes. (Source: Quartz India)

Demonetization in India hopes to get rid of all of the country's black money which most likely exists in these legacy high denomination currency notes. (Source: Quartz India)

Now that we have had a sort of 101 on this topic, what has this got to do with the iPhone sales in the country? Well, according to this article, trying to get rid of some of old currency that people could not exchange for the new notes, some people seem to have come up with an ingenius idea of buying Apple iPhones with all that cash in hand. The article cites, sales figures which quiet frankly support the article's premise strongly.

As per trade estimates, over 1 lakh iPhones were sold in these three days, which is around three-fourth of this handset’s average monthly sales... iPhones were sold out in most of the neighbourhood stores after demonetisation. In fact, on that night (of November 8) itself several stores sold iPhones till midnight. Some even sold them at a premium...
— via Economic Times
iPhone is still a luxury item and a status symbol in India (Source: Firstpost.com)

iPhone is still a luxury item and a status symbol in India (Source: Firstpost.com)

However if you possess a lot of black money and you wish to transform it to some other form of wealth, wouldn't you be better off investing in some form of investme­nt that would appreciate or at least not lose half of its value in a year or two. As you know, though iPhones have good re-sale value and hold on to a lot of their value in general much better than any other smartphone, within a year or two its value on average reduces by 25 to 50%. So in my opinion, the only reason for the spike in the iPhone sales during demonetization is that people who had anyway planned to purchase an iPhone in the future are biting the bullet and doing so right away. So my guess is that this huge spike in the iPhone sales is just a lot of future sales piled up together, pre-poned to the present. If this is the case, I would not be surprised, if the iphone sales in India dips a bit after this demonetization tide settles down in the coming few months.