About 2 years back, I had argued in my blog post that the about to be launched iPhone would fail in the Indian market . While I leave it to your judgment to decide how my audacious argument performed on the time scale, here I am back with another set of observations for the Indian market, this time on iPhone 4.
The fact remains is that Apple has created the worst possible marketing mix, when it comes to the Indian market. The price of an iPhone is prohibitive in the market. While it sells under USD 200 in the US (with operator lock and under a long term plan), it costs over Rs 30,000 in India. Translated into dollars, that costs over 640 dollars at today’s rate. That is expensive even by purchasing ability of customers in the United States. For Indian customers, that’s even more in terms of impact. Besides, there’s barely any marketing campaign and even the operators such as Airtel and Vodafone who supposedly offer iPhone, remain lukewarm about the promotions.
The distribution of iPods has taken a slightly mass route, with even bookstores keeping it for sale. However, how does one see iPad? Where does one go for it? I am not sure, apart from the mental recall that there is an Apple iStore on R.K.Salai in Chennai. Moreover, in the US, the launch on the device is an event by itself, and that itself is the biggest promotion, that is widely covered by the media. No such thing in India. We’ve to get contented by watching Steve Jobs launch videos in USA.
That kind of impact is not available in Indian market, where its launch mix is much weaker than a Nokia phone that costs Rs 2000/-.
Moreover, where’s 3G in India? The frequency auction for 3G is on as of now, and the networks are ages to go. So, no video calls, as Steve Jobs demonstrated at WWDC.
This presents a great opportunity for Sonyericsson and other smartphone manufacturers. In short, Apple is leading the innovation threshold, but it is way behind the expectation threshold in market approach to markets such as India, where others such as Sonyericsson, HTC, Nokia continue to lead.
According to me, the best estimate could be of an Indian market of less than 100 pieces, if and when the model gets launched. That does not mean only 100 iPhone 4s will be used in India. In fact, there would be much more than that, despite the restrictions.
Till then Apple will only be news in India. If wants to be taken seriously in India, it needs to have a clear market strategy, which seems to be lacking at this point.