I observed lately that there’s a very small consumer base for the iPhone in India. In fact, it’s almost one-tenth of what we have in the USA. There is a large multitude of reasons responsible for this. I’m discussing here the top five + one , which I believe could have been responsible for this.
People, here, often tend to compare the iPhone prices in India to that in the USA. There’s some truth in it as well as some myth. Firstly the myth, it’s true that I only had to pay $199 for myiPhone 3G last year (it is $99 now) but I’m locked to AT&T for two years. Also, I’m paying a fixed monthly rental, which is very expensive, keeping in mind the Indian standard of living.
So, it’s not really very expensive to buy the phone. Similar phones from other manufacturers like Sony Ericsson andNokia are found to fall in the same price range. It costs you 31000 INR to buy iPhone 3G from Airtel.(that’s the price in Dec 2008)
In India iPhone was originally is currently available with two providers viz. Airtel & Vodafone. While Vodafone’s stock ran out in only half a year, Airtel always had a phone ready to take home whenever you walk in. Also, Airtel gives you free internet usage (up to 500MB/month) for a year. Vodafone, to our anguish, does not offer any returns for buying a phone locked to their network. So, customers who weren’t already on Airtel would have to switch networks to get a good deal. It would be great to have more providers stepping in.
Poor Data Coverage
When the iPhone 3G was launched in India in August 2008, there were no 3G networks from any provider. Even the then existing state of GPRS and EDGE coverage was bad. You are fine as long as you are in a metropolitan area but you’ll never know when the data network might give in once you’re traveling.
However, much has improved since then. Even 3G networks have been introduced. So the point being made is that consumers weren’t really able to take advantage of the best feature of the iPhone, its Mobile Browser, unless they were on a wi-fi network. I also must say that out of all the GPRS networks I have used in India, Airtel has been the most consistent and fastest in terms of browsing speeds.
Here in India, the phone is only sold at the Airtel or Vodafone stores. As far as I know, the phones cannot be purchased at the Apple stores. Back in the USA whenever you walk in to an Apple store a technical assistant called a ‘Genius’ who sits at the ‘Genius Bar’ will assist you with everything.
From suggesting the right plan to customizing your phone, he’ll help you out. He will not only transfer contacts from your old phone but also install everything other possible thing you might want. No matter what, the salesmen at Airtel or Vodafone can never match up to that. It takes expertise and customer satisfaction together to build a wide consumer network.
Consumers are often doubtful, infact it’s normal for everyone, to try a new product. While the Nokias and BlackBerrys have existed for a long time the iPhone has been here for just three years.(two years in India) It’s the same thing that kept people and organizations from upgrading to Vista from Windows XP. Fact is not all of us have the time and patience to try a new platform. Corporate users, more so. We have to admit that no matter how perfect some user interface is, it does take time to adapt to it.
Lack of Countrywide Support
While Apple has service centers for Mac’s in most cities, until 2009 you could not even approach them for iPhone support. You would always have to report to your network provider. This does scare away some customers. But I can reassure that it has so far been a very good experience for me. I had only one issue and Airtel replaced my phone in seven days flat.
While a lot other minor factors come in, but these are, in my opinion, the top influencing factors for iPhone sales in India. While some are true, others are mostly a myth.
We would love to hear about your iPhone experiences in India. In case you have been hesitating to buy one yet, all the more reason to tell us why so?
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