iPhone 3G Launch Dismal Failure in India (a small nation with 1.2 billion people)

By Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Friday, September 5, 2008

Apple launched iPhone in India, a country with only 1.2 billion people and overall not considered rich like their counterparts in USA. In USA Apple launched iPhone for $199 only. Steve Jobbs also promised that it will be similalry priced across all markets. So how did they target a market of 1.2 B with a very high mobile pernetration and nowhere as rich as USA? By pricing iPhone 3G at 4 times the US price at Rs. 31, 000 only (and lockdown for a year to the service provider) and without 3G. Imagine how the market reacted…

“Only a few buyers turned up at midnight launches done by both Airtel and Vodafone across eight cities in India,” The Economic Times reported.

After their initial launch with much fanfare, only few handsets were sold throughout the country. After about 13 days of launching only few thousands have been sold by some estimates. Why is Apple’s iPhone 3G been a dismal failure in India?

Price - Apple iPhone 3G is way overpriced

iPhone 3G is priced over 4 times in India. While India has a good market for high end phones, even from relatively unknown mobile phone vendors like Asus, iPhone 3G is unique in that it has been overpriced so much that its features are not attractive compared to its competitors.

Apple & its allies Vodaphone & Airtel have turned away lots of customers with their insanely high price point. Most potential buyers are waiting for prices to drop drastically and some to ~199$ levels.

iPhone 3G is under-featured

Imagine a Rs 30, 000 without a front facing video camera and lack of video conferencing (Gizmodo prefers to use a mirror)! In India the mobile market is quite mature and the high end mobile are very feature-rich and comparable to anywhere in the world. However unlike USA, Apple doesn’t have any brand value in India. People don’t go gaga over anything Apple creates. So Apple has to compete in terms of equivalent features for the price. Apple fails there. I have unconfirmed reports that iPhone 3G internet speed isn’t very good. The funniest thing is that iPhone 3G has been launched without having any 3G service provider. It will run over GSM only. The high-income bracket is hesitant to buy the iPhone simply because of negative perceptions about its quality and features but not its price. Apple hasn’t impressed the mobile-crazy crowd in India. Even the tech magazines and tech shows have rated iPhone 3G poorly.


I rarely use mobile phone and so my old Samsung serves me well. I don’t like to check emails on phone nor do I send SMS. The only reason I will buy an iPhone is to make my web application compatible with it. I don’t like getting fleeced. So I will just get it from USA and use it with wifi only for testing.

Would you buy an iPhone in India?

September 20, 2008: 9:37 pm

[...] of 3G spectrum, internet speed will increase, at least for the mobile segment. However it may be ridiculously priced like iPhone 3G and fail to gain any [...]

September 8, 2008: 12:08 pm

Even in India you are tied to the provider for at least one year.

September 8, 2008: 12:06 pm

Actually I think you should do the research yourself. In WWDC 2008 keynote Steve Jobs promised $199 iPhone for everyone. He said:

“We’ll be rolling it out in 70 countries in the next several months. Next time you’re in Malta and you need an iPhone 3G, it’ll be there for ya.” Don’t worry people, we’ll have maps of these countries!

“These deals are all signed, sealed, and delivered. Our stretch goal was 25 countries — we’ll be in 70 countries this year, we think we can check off more countries.” Applause. “Which brings us to: more affordable.”

“iPhone started off at $599 for an 8GB device, which now sells for $399 — we want to make it even more affordable. I’m happy to tell you the 8GB model will sell for $199.”

“We think the iPhone 3G will be affordable to almost everyone. 16GB model for $299 — for that model we have a white one.”

“The big news, is $399 to $199 — we think we can check off more affordable.”

Source: Engadget

Also check out the photo of countries shown. India was in the initial list of countries.

BTW: Sure, there is a “good reason why iPhone isn’t priced at $199 in India”. It is called greed.

September 8, 2008: 5:36 am

Just as I suspected.

Will the marketing idiots at Airtel please stand up. I agree with Jake. Blame the providers… not Apple.
Angsuman, please do your research before publishing. Jobs DID NOT say that all the countries will get the iphone at 199. It applied only to the 22 countries in which it was initially launched.
There is a reason why the iPhone is priced at 199 in the US. Its NOT the iPhones price… just good marketing.

September 5, 2008: 10:43 pm

Hey, blame the Indian carriers for the high price, not Apple. In the U.S. AT&T is subsidizing the initial purchase price of the iPhone by locking subscribers into a two-year contract. If you buy in the U.S., you can either get one of the vanishing 1G phones and unlock it, or pay the cost of a two-year contract (roughly $1680). Without the iPhone you and other Indians are missing out on the apps, the best part!

will not be displayed