Apple’s iPhone sales fell rather dramatically in India during the first three months of 2013, according to new data published by the International Data Corporation (IDC).

The Times of India reports that Apple sold a total of 120,000 smartphones in India throughout the first quarter, a 47 percent decrease from the 230,000 sold in the last three months of 2012.

The drop is perhaps not surprising given that Apple launched the iPhone 5 in India, albeit rather quietly to begin with, in November last year. The introduction of such a high-profile handset pretty much guaranteed healthy sales figures during its initial launch period.

Apple has reportedly been keen to push the device with a fairly long-term marketing campaign, as well as numerous discount schemes and monthly instalment options to try to bring down the perceived price of the handset and open it up to a broader array of consumers in India.

The subsequent drop between January and March this year reportedly pushes Apple’s market share down from 4.7 percent to 2.1 percent. Samsung, for comparison, had a market share of 32.7 percent over the same period.

The data published today is in stark contrast to figures quoted by an analyst from Credit Suisse in May this year. Sunil Tirumalai said average monthly sales of the iPhone were “nearing 400,000 units per month in India”, up from between 70,000 and 80,000 sales when Apple didn’t yet offer a monthly instalment payment scheme.

IDC published similar figures in February this year, suggesting that Apple’s smartphone sales had risen by as much as 400 percent in the three months prior. Now, it’s possible that iPhone sales initially slumped after the New Year, but then spiked once again following the first quarter of 2013. This would validate both the 120,000 figure released by IDC today, as well as the more impressive 400,000 units stated by Credit Suisse for present monthly sales.

If accurate though, it would be some pretty peculiar market behavior. The iPhone 5 is still a highly sought after handset and its quality both from a hardware and software perspective is industry-leading. Given that its marketing and promotional offers still stand, there’s little explanation as to why Apple’s iPhone sales could fall so sharply.

The smartphone maker will need to double its efforts and also perhaps re-evaluate its overall strategy in India if it’s to regain stable growth in handset sales. With a new, more affordable iPhone rumored to be in development, Apple could just have the answer.

Image Credit: WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images