Let me get started abruptly : India is the world’s second largest (and growing) mobile phone market. That’s a fact. More people have phones in India than toilets. That’s another fact. I’m going to knock you out with facts. Here’s another one : I am simply way more awesome than you can ever hope to be.
Anyway, this growth started sometime after 2000 and simply exploded. Mobile phone prices came down from a horrifying Rs.16/minute to just 10p/minute. I remember clearly when Nokia introduced their specially made-for-India phone. It had a torch and a basic set of functions that Indians were more than happy to embrace and use. It had an extended battery life. It was the phone to have at a point. And then it was followed by other phones, including this rock. I initially owned that not so long ago (in 2006).
Wow, was that just five years ago? Really?
Then I got some Samsung slider phone, whose name I forgot. I then got the Nokia 7210 supernova and now have an Android.
And this isn’t the case with just me, or Indians, or even India. I’m sure everyone, all over the world, have cellphones that are approximately 128790871 times better than the one they had not-so-long-ago. What I’m trying to say though, is people are moving up the ladder of owning phones. I own a better phone now than I did earlier. Naturally now I want the best phone there, for reasons that are beyond even my level of understanding.
And the best phone now is an iPhone. Why? I don’t know and don’t care.
So yeah, I want an iPhone. Yesterday, the iPhone 4S was introduced to the world and it’ll go on sale in various locations except India from October 14th. As with all Apple products, it’s awesome. My brain and my fingers want it. So :
It’s not even kind of going to be released here soon, is it? If even Google can’t throw up result for that, it certainly is ominous.
I mean, let’s have a look at Apples recent history with the Indian market eh. They dumped the iPad officially in India just before they released the iPad 2 over the world. They dumped the iPhone 4 in India just a few months back, officially again, and now they have this new phone out in the market. I say and italicize dumped because, once the iPad 2 is out, how many from Apple’s focus markets will buy the original iPad?
I expect them to do the same with this phone.
And so I don’t get it. Apple markets itself so fucking well, so I don’t really understand why they’re consistently ignoring India. I mean, there’s not even an official Apple retailer, just authorized resellers like iStore from Reliance and iMagine and Maple and such.
Does Apple realize the enormous potential in the Indian market? Do they think they don’t need India since they’re already the largest company in terms of market value? Do they think they can afford to keep dumping old products that no one will buy, in India, and if so, why?
I can understand if they ignore Chile or Peru or Nigeria or Kenya. I can understand if they ignore even Taiwan (they don’t). But can they afford to ignore the world’s third largest economy and second largest mobile phone market?
How much sense does it make? It doesn’t, to me.
Why? Why Apple? Do you think people in India can’t afford your new products? I don’t get it. Does Steve Jobs or whoever the fuck is incharge now (Tim Cook) think India is what it was in the 70s?
It just goes over the top of my head. While every other blue-chip major like Google and Microsoft and even fucking Motorola are cosying up in India, Apple looks the other way with an almost “Meh” attitude.
That doesn’t mean I can’t buy Apple products here. I can. Right now if I want to. Apple products are already overpriced, but are ridiculously extramega-overpriced in India. (I’m talking stuff you find at stores, not in some bazaar). For example, the unlocked iPhone 3Gs cost $700 (or Rs.35000) when it first came out in the US. In India, even if it’s not unlocked, it was Rs.48000 when it came out with Vodafone.
That’s a 27% increase in price for products that can’t even be compared.
But why? In the desperation for getting their hands on Apple products, more than one person I know is willing to use a second hand iPhone, or buy it off the black market.
The problem with both these options is, if it stops working, there’s no warranty that you can use to get it fixed or exchanged. It’s gone. And since it comes from a dubious source (black market isn’t exactly known for quality), the odds of the phone malfunctioning are high. So that’s just all your money down the drain.
Why, Apple? Why?
And Apple can’t say India is a Nokia-bastion. That’s not true. It WAS the Last Stand of Nokia. Nokia still has 36% of India’s market share, which is HUGE, but this is itself small. I reckon that Nokia had a 65% control over the Indian market even 2 years ago, so this means Nokia’s market share is declining, and fast.
This is because of companies like Spice and Micromax and Karbonn, which do what Nokia does (make cheap and affordable phones) and sell them for a lower cost than Nokia can afford to. This is also because of Samsung, and Blackberry, and other smart-phone makers. They’re mopping the floor with Nokia simply because Nokia hasn’t evolved on Symbian and waited too long to do anything else (MeeGo or WP7).
So, unfortunately, Nokia is getting raped here.
What else can Apple say? That India doesn’t have the technology necessary for its phones to work, like 3G and Wifi?
That’s not true, to an extent anyway. As I said, India is a new market. I expect 3G to be in full force by 2014, atleast in established urban areas like Mumbai and Delhi and Bangalore and Hyderabad and Chennai and Kolkatta and Pune and so on.
Even so, we have 2G and 2.5G and I’m perfectly satisfied with that. I have a smartphone (an Android) and it’s an intensive data user. Seriously. I left it on my Vodaphone prepaid sim, idle for 3 days and the balance dropped to way below negative in that time. That’s not supposed to happen and is another issue entirely, but you get my point.
The Internets are flying around and my phone does pick it up, albeit at very slow speeds. There’s not enough public wifi to use, but a lot of people have private wifi at homes and offices. So it’s not like the iPhone will just be a glassy rock in our hands if Apple decided to sell it here.
Therefore, while the quality of wireless internet services here is definitely questionable, it’s not reason enough for Apple to shy away from actually selling their phones here. Samsung does it – the Samsung Galaxy S II is available here for Rs.30K, and it’s comparable to the iPhone 4.
Because of this arrogant fuckassery by Apple, the void that was created by Nokia and made famous by them (that of smartphones) is being filled fast by Android phones and RIM’s Blackberry.
Android is so popular because there are so many Android phones running so many different OS’ and priced anywhere between a shocking Rs.6000 all the way upto, I estimate, Rs.40000. That’s the advantage Google has.
It allows the OEMs like Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, LG and HTC to tweak Android and spit out their renditions of Android (with a few T&C’s imposed). This in turn allows Samsung to make phones like the I9000 and knock off features and ultimately also sell souped-down versions like what I have now (I5801).
So this means Samsung sells extremely premium phones, as well as medium priced phones as well as the really cheap phones. And it’s not just Samsung. It’s also Motorola. This list even includes Micromax and Spice now, who want to jump in on the smartphone Bandwagon. Google has made it easy for them to do so and is simply sitting pretty, earning money off all this.
That’s where Nokia lost out – they simply did not evolve to keep up with times. That’s where Blackberry is holding out. By not evolving and yet offering something that no one else offers (increased security and fucking Blackberry messenger) and using their first-movers advantage, Blackberry’s market share in India is actually increasing. If you read the news, you’ll know that this is the exact opposite of what is happening to RIM across the world.
Obviously all this means India is a very dynamic and unusual market. My question is, why is there no iPhone 4s in India? Clearly there is a lot of money to be made. This is a market that’s just going to keep growing for the forseeable future.
Growing markets equals money. Apple is absent in this equation.
Has Apple lost the market because of lack of foresight? Or is Apple deliberately throwing the market? Do they seriously think they can enter even 4 years later and earn profits? Seriously WTF is going on, Apple?
UPDATE : A day after I posted this, Steve Jobs passed due to pancreatic cancer. I certainly don’t want this to be in bad taste, so I want it to be clear that I’m not dissing Steve Jobs in anyway in this post. I’m just critical of Apple’s policies.
On a more sombre note, RIP Mr.Jobs, no one else can design, innovate and market like you did. You were probably too awesome for this world anyway.