Apple’s next emerging market might not be in Asia, but in South America. During the company’s recent earnings conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook identified Brazil as one of Apple’s future growth areas. “I think there’s a huge opportunity for us there, and we’ve more than begun to go deeper into Brazil,” Cook said. “But I don’t want to signal that that means that Apple retail will be there, because I don’t envision that occurring in the near term.”
As noted by GigaOm, Brazil is an extremely populous country with over 200 million people, and its economy is the best in all of South America. Per capita income in Brazil isn’t great compared to the US, but it compares quite favorably against China, which has been Apple’s biggest international success story thus far.
One potential sticking point exists for increasing Apple’s Brazilian sales, however. Currently, Brazilians pay some of the highest prices in the world for Apple gear. At launch, an unsubsidized 16 GB iPhone 4S cost the equivalent of more than US$1,400 in Brazil, compared to $849 for a 64 GB model in the US. Those breathtakingly high prices may be due to a number of factors, including Brazil’s high import duties, but if Apple is going to attempt to get the kind of traction in Brazil it’s seen in China, those prices are going to have to drop significantly.