iPhone came to India with a bang. That bang lasted only for the night of the launch. Since its launch it has been weighed, tested and found wanting.
Here are the 7 reason why iPhone did not work in India.
- Cost is too high for a phone which offers no new features except the touch screen. Priced at Rs31, 000 for 8GB and Rs36,100 for 16GB most of the phone buyers felt it’s not worth it.
- There is no 3G network yet in India. Though the 3G auction process is complete and the spectrum is allocated it takes a while for the service providers like Airtel and Vodafone to roll 3G enabled services out. It could be in early 2009, which is a good 6 months away. So why pay for a service which cannot be used?
- People are waiting for Nokia N96. Seriously, most of my colleagues have said that Nokia N96 is a better phone and they will wait for it rather than going for iPhone. Sure the iPhone’s touch screen is good and its iPod music playing capability is awesome but I would rather not spend my money for just that. I want more. Besides, the brand value of Nokia in India is pretty strong and Apple has to work really hard to break that. iPhone did not give a compelling reason (other than the touch screen) for people to leave their N series phones.
- Hygiene factors are missing. Many features which are a given in a phone that costs you Rs4, 000 are missing in iPhone. I am not sure why they were but, video recording, cut paste, sms forwarding (how can you miss this) options are lacking.
- Consumers are waiting for the price to drop. This has been the case for a while now. I bought a 4GB iPod Nano for Rs.18, 000 in March 2006. I have checked backed into apple store after 6 months and for the same price they were selling 30GB iPod video. It is an apples and apples comparison and they did not match. So, I think apple will cut its prices and people are waiting for that.
- Alternative routes to acquire the phone at a cheaper price. iPhone crazed are the people who mostly work with technology. They usually know what the going rate of iPhone overseas is. So, it is not hard to get an iPhone 2G for $200 and unlock it for Rs. 1000 here in India. I am not sure if this route will work for 3G. Since there is no difference between 3G and 2G right now in India this would be a steal. Even the rising dollar would not be a factor here.
- Apple’s monopoly did not go well with Indians. Apple has ingenuously designed products and equally ingenuous monopoly. Indian consumers do not want contracts. They would like to change phones, change numbers whenever they want. They do not want to be married to a number and a phone. Besides, when you buy a phone at such an exorbitant price, how can you justify the fact that you cannot change your phone for a different number or a different vendor? I am finding it hard to justify. Only Steve Jobs can answer that but until then Nokia might rule the roost.
iPhone in India has a long way to go. Unless the prices are slashed and apple ties up with other GSM service providers it might never take off. We just have to wait and see if rolling of 3G services might give it a second life. A price of Rs. 20,000 would find more takers at least for the 8GB version.