A billion dollars. Just saying it makes me wax whimsical about the salad days when such an august figure was what we in the business called "a lot of money." The gigantic sums of money earned by the likes of Apple and Google may have jaded us to such figures, but there are innumerable companies that would kill for a billion dollars of business in year.
With that long setup, we learned from the Registrar of Companies (RoC) on Thursday that in the year ending in March, Apple did $1 billion dollars in sales in India for the first time. Sales increased 44 percent year-over-year to some 64.7 billion rupees, or just north of $1 billion at the time The Economic Times of India first reported the news earlier on Thursday.
The Rupee has since retreated against the dollar, and as of this writing, it's closer to US$978 million. Profits for Apple India as reported to the RoC doubled to some 2.4 billion rupee, or some $36.6 million.
Which is still a lot, especially when you consider the market. India is the world's second largest country in population, but like other emerging markets only a small percentage of its populace can afford Apple products.
Going back to at least 2012, Apple began improving its operations in India, a market that works differently than most of the rest of the world. In particular, the Indian cellphone market is dominated by vast numbers of small and independent retailers, and Apple had to find ways to accommodate that model.
Even still the Indian market is dominated by cheap feature phones and cheap Android devices—in a country where per capita income was just $1,250 in 2013, a $400-$900 iPhone is just plain out of reach to most people.
All of which makes Apple's 44 percent increase in sales to $1 billion (plus or minus) a huge accomplishment.
*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a tiny, almost insignificant share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.