They say India is a weird country and that most of the marketing theories which work everywhere else don’t necessarily work here. Well ‘they’ are right!

On the 22nd of August, India saw Apple entering the mobile phone market with its latest offering; iPhone 3G. So why are talking about it here, you ask. Since two weeks the iPhone which sold millions of pieces throughout the world managed to sell only (wait hold your breath!) 5000, yes 5000 pieces. This figure is the countrywide sales of the iPhone 3G.

So what went wrong? How come a product which generated blockbuster sales around the world muster only 5000 thousand units?

There are many reasons…
1. When most of the countries were selling the iPhone between INR 8000 to 15000, Indian operators came out with the price of INR 31600 (8GB) and INR 33600 (16GB). Automatically alienating most of the populace.
2. India does not have 3G and the target customers for this phone know that. (Airtel and Vodafone think they are clever… they are plain stupid if you ask me.) What were the service providers thinking?
3. Advance booking does not mean sales. The service providers know that. Again what was the purpose of having advance booking, especially when anyone could do it for free.
4. The iPhone (older one) in 16GB iteration sells for about INR 25000 in the grey market. That should have been a good enough barometer for pricing.
5. I asked a couple of people who are using the iPhone, whether they would have bought the new iPhone. They said that there is nothing ‘new’ as such in the new version. They also said its priced as a luxury device, which it is not!
6. I also asked a lot of people, if they would consider the iPhone or no over their existing phones. Almost all of them said that it is a great phone but not at all worth the price. The camera is just 2 mega pixel, there is no keypad, (A majority of India’s population travels by two wheelers and buses, making it very inconvenient to sms or type anything). Also they were aware of the battery woes of the iPhone (this is something I really did not expect), The post-paid plans also were an impediment for most as they preferred the cheaper pricing structure of prepaid (pay as you go) plans.

I was also talking to a friend of mine, she had recently purchase the iPod nano 8GB. I asked what her views on the iPhone were. She said that the iPhone was great but she preferred her phone to be separate from her iPod. The reason, all the functions use one battery, which is a pain when u need the phone to work for the entire day. I have to agree on that, the more the features, the more battery life a phone eats up. She also put a forward a very pertinent question- “What if my phone gets spoilt, won’t I lose my iPod too?” Again I have to agree.

Apple has indeed come out with a wonderful device, but in India they just haven’t done their homework. Every western company that comes to India and refuses to learn, have to face this kind of a situation. There are many instances of something of this sort happening. When will these companies learn?

Airtel and Vodafone have decided to lower the prices by INR 5000 on the iPhone. Seriously what will you achieve by this? When your target customer knows that it will be cheaper to buy it in US and have it shipped here. Wake up Airtel and Vodafone! India has changed!

iPhone 3G

iPhone 3G

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