India

Who wants to own an iPhone ?

Chinmay Narawane with B. P. Singh while recieving first iPhone

Chinmay Narawane with B. P. Singh while recieving first iPhone

Chinmay Narawane did not sleep for two days prior to Thursday in the anxiety to lay hand on his iPhone. He had reason to be so anxious as an Apple software enthusiast, he was looking forward to get the 3G handset. After that big moment came when he was chosen as the first customer to get iPhone in Pune, he received another good news : a reduced price of one thousand rupees.

The much awaited 3G iphone was launched in Pune on the night of 21 August. At the Vodafone show room in Wakdewadi, Chinmay was handed over the first handset by B. P. Singh, chief executive officer of Vodafone Essar Cellular Ltd. After all the formalities of registering his phone got over, he spoke to Pune Mirror.

Attractive despite its price

“I am an avid enthusiast of Apple gadgets. For the last one year, I was using Apple 2G which I had bought in the black market. Beside the features in that iphone, I had loaded 80 application in the handset myself was waiting for the launch and was reading 200 blogs daily about iPhone only. As I work in the night shift, I got the mail regarding launch in Pune at 3 AM two days ago. Without wasting time, I registered my name here and got this opportunity,” said Chinmay.

Chinmay, 23 years, works in BMC Software Ltd. He had came to the event in the night with a friend during his duty hours. He was expected to return to duty shortly. “I will only say that iPhone 3G rocks. Touching is believing,” he said. What is more, he had to pay just Rs 29,640 (460 euros) for his 8 GB model as Vodafone has reduced the price. Now, the 16 GB model will cost Rs 34,580 (540 euros). “Now, with this additional savings, my friends will certainly demand a party,” he said.

Numbers, what numbers ?

Meanwhile, Singh informed that Vodafone has received good response to advance booking. The company received enquiries in multiple thousands. “First we were looking at the higher class as our customers. But we realised that younger generation needs these kind of phones more,” he said. Citing the company policy, he said he can not give the exact number of handsets sold. At the event, about ten customers who had done advance booking were given iPhones.

Meanwhile, Airtel also launched the iPhone. The Airtel iPhone will be priced at Rs 31,000 (480 euros) for 8 GB and Rs 36,100 (560 euros) for 16 GB. The 16GB phone will be available in 2 colours – Black and White. According to Airtel officers, upto Friday morning, about 90 pieces had been sold in Mumbai, Maharashtra and Goa circle. “We are delighted to launch the iconic iPhone for all customers in the M&G circle » said Mr. Manu Talwar, CEO, Maharashtra & Goa, Bharti Airtel Ltd.

Though Airtel did not held any event for the release of iPhone, showrooms of the company were open in the night. Shane Patrick, owner of Auto Diagnostic Center Pvt Ltd. became the first owner of the Airtel iPhone who purchased the phone at 12:45 AM.
The crowd at Vodfone store at midnight on 21 August

Crowd at Vodafone store at midnight on August, 22nd

A half-tint launch

Having said that, I must say that the launch of iPhone in India could not arouse as much enthusiasm here in India as it did elsewhere. There were no queues outside showrooms nor were there any large bookings. The company officials of Airtel and Vodafone also admit that the pricing of iPhone is a big issue in this market. To top it all, Nokia has introduced N96 just at the this point of time. 

The situation seems similar in other cities also as this Reuters story tells.
« We are aware that Nokia launched this phone to coincide with the launch of iPhone. But iPhone has a different utility altogether. So we are not much concerned with it, » one official from Vodafone told me. The same official, who obviously did not wan to be quoted, expected Vodafone to get more business than Airtel. « We have worldwide presence therefore which gives more choice to customers as well as Apple. Therefore we will get more share of the pie than our competitors, » he said.
Meanwhile, curiously enough, Vodafone distributed the iPhones to its employees only after they were given to customers. Asked why the officials carried other phones (Singh carried a Blackberry) , Singh replied, « We want our customers to get the iPhone first. Then only will we carry them. »

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