iphone in India: Hit or a miss?


I would say 50:50. I’m trying to analyze Apple’s strategy and iphone being a household name in India. No criticism, no praise, no publicity, this is just a plain curious analysis.

00:00 on 22nd August, iphone let its first baby cry out albeit very lamely. It was, I think one of the quietest launches for Apple any where in the world. They reported in Economic times that the launch of the iphone at a Vodafone outlet in Connaught place, Delhi’s plush business locality, the journalist heavily outnumbered the buyers (source: Knowledge@Wharton) Sigh! Had I been Nokia, I would have made out a sarcastic ‘ what a pity’ expression.

What is the reason for such a poor response to one of the most talked about innovation? Price, I see is one of the reasons for such a meager response. While the best phones are available only at as high as 24k, paying 31k (about US $720) for the base iphone model seems ridiculous. That too when the same model in available at $199 in US. Does it not sound like discrimination? The model should have been cheaper in India. More than 50% correction and I bet if iphone is not a household name.

Apple, who is known for marketing its products very well seems to have lost a plot here. They have always managed to create the fanfare behind every thing they do. In fact, mac has made its way to the status symbols list almost every where. So what happened here? Did they give up even before they started? I think there is a catch here. May be Apple didn’t want to launch iphone in countries in India. Unlike US, where they have a large customer base for Mac, India is pretty much novice to what Apple products are. So probably Apple didn’t expect huge response and hence never wanted to create the same hoopla aka US. They have been quietly sitting and enjoying Airtel and Vodafone struggle to attract customers.

Another catch, while they launched iphone with a single operator elsewhere, they chose to go with India’s leading GSM operators Airtel and Vodafone at a time. Now iphone’s sale will have no impact on either Airtel or Vodafone simply because it is not going to amplify their customer base. They are just happy to earn that extra money on commission of selling iphone through their stores. They might succeed poaching some from the rival CDMA operator and second largest in India, Reliance communications. But how much is that going to be? Not enough.

Absence of 3G is also not helping the sale again. iphone is using the EDGE technology available in India which is not enough to really unravel the true essence of the phone. So till the time there is no 3G, iphone deems like any other phone, albeit very costly.

Absence of basic features as I’m told is also working against the iphone. I have heard transfer of data through blue tooth is not possible, plus the phone is not compatible with any system but a Mac. There are enough headaches of using a touch screen already (ask me, I’m using one) and forwarding SMS is a big pain in the ass.

Besides the rivals are not keeping quite at all. Nokia N96, Philips Xenium, LG1000, Samsung Omnia have all chipped in. And all of these are priced at least 5k lesser than iphone.

All I can say to Apple at the moment is “Best of Luck. You need it”  :mrgreen:

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4 thoughts on “iphone in India: Hit or a miss?

  1. Apple and Macintosh have not been very big players in India in any case. Except for a minority of die hards, PCs powered by MS have been ruling the roost in India for decades. It is another factor to take into account. Moreover, Apple tied up with local service providers, in my opinion a major mistake.

    Moreover, Indians do not seem to be particularly enthusiastic about mobility. Look how many people use BlackBerry! Indians seem to like to talk and sms rather than email!

  2. I agree. Probably we are not Apple ready yet. And I bet Apple knew about it. Hence there was no major effort from Apple to promote the phone in India. All they have done is allowed Vodafone (is not a local player by the way) and Airtel to sell it under their guidelines.

    Apple is way too shrewd to let its product fail

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  4. Apple does have a loyal fan following in India. If there is a reason it has not picked up pace in India is because of the higher price – which is only because of import duties. I know a large amount of people who have switched to Macs, and my own personal reason not to was the cost. India is a cost conscious economy, but that does not mean that Apple can subsidise its products for the country.

    Ofcourse the Apple phone is heavily overpriced here, that is again a combination of duties + carriers like vodafone charging so much for the phone. Abroad the phones cost so less because the carriers subsidise the phone a lot – moeny which they can recover through value added services over 3G – 3g that we don’t have here yet.

    Somewhere in belgium or central europe (i forgot where), the phone was selling for 900 euros without a contract – much more than INR 40000.

    I believe apple will tap into the indian electronics market soon enough. Did you know the new nvidia 9400 chipsets that are being used in the new apple macbooks (in lieu of the older intel graphics chipsets) have been designed and developed entirely in India!! (read: http://www.techtree.com/India/News/New_Apple_MacBooks_Have_India_Inside/551-94313-581.html)

    Cheers.

    Vivek

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