iPhone in India, is it for you?
Indian bloggers can’t have enough of the iPhone! Every blog that I’ve been reading regularly is talking about it and crying fowl over its pricing. iPhone is priced at 31K and 36K for 8Gb and 16Gb versions respectively. Apparently iPhone costs the most in India. People have been asking who’s going to buy it?
iPhone is an aspirational product. It is really an iPod with phone capabilities – a music player that can make and receive calls and has a web browser. Technically speaking it suffers with same kind of drawbacks as earlier versions of Windows Mobile. By pricing it at a premium Apple is making sure that it remains a lifestyle product. May be Apple doesn’t want your average Indian IT professional buying it. An average IT/tech guy might go for a Nokia N series,Sony Ericsson P series, HTC or BlackBerry after comparing the features with iPhone. iPhone is not just a phone, its an experience. Apple products have always been about an experience and iPhone is no different. Users of lifestyle products are willing to a paying a premium for that experience, brand and that little exclusivity. What’s special in having a phone that everyone has? Unlike Microsoft, Apple doesn’t want to rule every desktop/pocket. It’s all about experience.
In the US and elsewhere things are a little different though. There carriers are subsidizing the iPhone because they have a large market of consumers of lifestyle products who don’t mind signing long term contracts for expensive data plans. In India very few people will be ready to do that. The fact that 85% of the subscribers are prepaid subscribers and lack of 3G networks only makes the matters worse. iPhone in India is no more than a music player with phone and we already have market flooded with such phones so Apple has decided to launch the product in premium segment targeting the top of the pyramid. Bottom of the pyramid is already overcrowded. I guess the reason why Apple decided to launch iPhone in India was to tap the gray market demand. Apple knows people are paying 25K+ for unlocked iPhones in the gray market, so why don’t sell an official premium and pocket those customers. Personally I’d rather buy an official (under warranty) phone at 31K instead of buying an unofficial(cracked-unlocked) phone for 25K. Apple could not have sold it for less than the gray market price. Apple is importing the phones in India legally and they have to pay applicable taxes and duties.
It’s clear that Apple isn’t in the game for market share, they are here for the mind share!