iPhone – At Rs.36,000 The Jesus Phone Costs Heaven. Will Nokia Emerge As The New God?

Ever since Preshit wrote about iPhone on WATBlog, everyone at WAT had been speculating about the prices at which Vodafone and Airtel would make iPhone available in India. Out there, there were many who were just waiting to lay their hands on the iPhone as soon it appears in India.

Well, a lot of them have lost all hopes after the news of iPhone touching Rs.36k leaked out in media. Blogs, forums, Twitter, everywhere the disappointment is apparent. Rs.36k is just insane. No, I didn’t say that, somebody on Twitter did.

The mail from Vodafone, to the ones who showed interest in the iPhone goes like this -

Hello A____,

Thank you for registering for your Apple iPhone 3GTM with us.

We are delighted to announce that the iPhone 3G will be available in India from August 22, 2008 It will be available in 8GB & 16GB models, priced at Rs 31,000 and Rs 36,100 respectively.

Be the first to get the iPhone

There you go. Just trying doing a Twitter Search for iPhone India and see the conversations flowing.

Though people are blaming Vodafone for the pricing, I suspect it’s more of Apple that’s at work here. Apple’s pricing policy is structured such that it has to command a premium. Which is kind of justified too, as the product positioning of the iPhone is a premium one. However, Apple seems to have ignored something here. The fact that they are in India. Scale, when spoken in terms of India gets much bigger. Bigger than the cumulative imagination of Apple’s executives.

Think of it, India has 300 mobile phones already. And from what I’ve seen so far, Indians love mobile phones. They love to compare their handsets, exchange ringtones, compare plans and carriers, and keep digging about the latest mobile phones. Just go to any digital retail store and see which section attracts the most audience (crowd) and you will understand.

Priced at the right point, iPhone had a chance to become a viral phenomenon in India. Remember, how everyone in your circle used to flaunt a Nokia 6600 at one point ? Same stuff. Though, I agree, the thing with Nokia 6600 started happening only after the drastic price drop. All we can hope for now is Apple will be going with such a price drop. Actually thinking of it now, they will. iPhone 2G had a price cut in the U.S. India is predominantly a price-sensitive market. More than anything else, it’s the discount that works here wonderfully.

To understand why mobile are important in India, read this –  Tim Berners-Lee, yes the guy who invented the Internet, had tweeted about the impact the mobiles are going to have in India in this post

Here are the excerpts

The whole country is making mobile a natural priority.  Wherever I went, it was obvious, all the way to overcrowded and old Indian trains.  My 14 hour overnight train did not have a restaurant car or a bathroom as we know it.  But it did have power plugs built in at each air-conditioned seat, with a metal plate next to it.  It didn’t say “computer power plug,” or “shaving power plug” (which would have been appropriate for these slow-moving overnight trains), but simply and only:  “mobile charging points.”

The next revolution coming to India is likely the use of the cell phone for the mobile web.

Clearly, a mobile Internet device could have worked wonderfully well not just for the 300 million plus consumers but also for the handset makes and the mobile carrier companies as well. Introduction of iPhone could have been a strong launching pad for a host of innovative, useful web-based services that can be delivered on the phone. Maps is a good example.

But then again, the brand image that Apple wants to project is that of a premium. The same thing, that goes with the iPod. Here are better music players than the iPod. But iPod has a different, premium positioning that none of the others have. Apple , perhaps wants to keep its phone placed at the higher spectrum of the market. If that’s the case, the price seems good.

It could not have obviously been Rs.8,500 ($199), the price at which the iPhone is offered in the United States. Its possible there ‘coz the carrier AT&T highly subsidizes the price there. So, speaking in the Indian context, if you are ready to shell out around Rs.1500-2500 per month and get into a 2-year contract with Airtel for this, you might have an iPhone that costs you Rs.8k ! Well, yes. Exactly what you are thinking. It just doesn’t works that way in India. As I said before, we love to compare and experiment with our plans. So, it was inevitable that iPhone will be priced highly in India.

So now, is it the end? Hardly.

Nokia, the world leader in mobile devices sales has announced its competitor for the iPhone – the N96. The N96 was announced in India, one month before its worldwide launch in the U.K. and two days before the official launch of iPhone in India. This is a well-thought strategic move to divert attention from Apple iPhone.

Nokia is a strong player in the Indian market. The Indian market is known to it. And N96 is a solid competition to the iPhone. At least that’s what the specifications say. 5MP camera, 16GB inbuilt memory, 8GB expandable memory, 2.8 inch screen. The camera that Nokia N96 uses is of far superior quality than in any other such device available today.

I interviewed many people online and asked about their preference. Most said they would prefer the N96 over the iPhone. Some had set their mind son it already. But a good number of them made that decision after they heard of the Rs.36k price tag for the iPhone. Though odd at first, the data reveals the underlying sentiment of India as a market – seek for value for money. Bang for the bucks. And the N96  - when compared, beats the iPhone by a pretty good margin. And moreover, knowing India’s reliance on Nokia products, it might just get it right this time.

What are your thoughts on this? Would you go for an iPhone, even with a Rs.36,000 price? Do let us know.

12 Responses to “iPhone – At Rs.36,000 The Jesus Phone Costs Heaven. Will Nokia Emerge As The New God?”

  1. jinendra
    August 20, 2008 at 8:58 pm #

    Its too expensive. Its going to be failure at that cost, as average Indian is very price sensitive.

  2. Sidharth
    August 20, 2008 at 9:55 pm #

    No ways. 36K is too high. I will stick with my P1i. Does not have 8 or 16GB memory but I still love it. N96 not for me . I am a NOKIA Hater . Airtel/Vodafone I hate you for this . You build up the iphone mania and then bring us down with a thud with your pricing

  3. Abhishek
    August 21, 2008 at 12:03 am #

    I too read an article on UTVi (http://utvi.myrecourl.com), where Vodafone has confirmed the above prices. The main question that comes to my mind is when the same cell phone is being sold for $199 (Rs 9000) in US, why on earth would apple sell it at such a high price? Anyone who can get an Iphone from US will definately get it from there. And as far as the gray market goes, I think its gonna be pricy there too.

  4. jinendra
    August 21, 2008 at 10:40 am #

    May be again we are going back East India Company policies. It is very sad. Not only i Phones, many things like credit cards we are paying high rates of interest. God only saves Indians.

  5. August 21, 2008 at 2:27 pm #


    The iPhone is NOT sold in the US for $199. It is only provided with an initial payment of $199, BUT you also need to sign up for a contract for two years and continue paying the monthly rentals for these two years which is around $60+ every month.

    Apple does plan to offer a ‘without contract’ iPhone in the US, but that again is for $599 plus taxes.

  6. Sameer
    August 21, 2008 at 3:18 pm #

    Guys iphone has disspointed us … but ankit u need to check out Nokia e71.. for me thats the iphone killer

  7. August 21, 2008 at 3:56 pm #

    A simple comparison of features with any Nokia N Series mobile will tell you the truth.

    for eg: N96 VS iPhone

    Weight: 125g VS 133g

    - 16 GB internal memory VS 8GB/16 GB shared.
    - 128MB RAM, 256MB storage memory VS no mention
    - Addition 8GB card slot VS no slot

    5 MP, 2592×1944 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics VS 2 MP 1600×1200 pixels

    Additional Features:
    - DVB-H TV broadcast receiver VS No
    - Java MIDP 2.0 VS No
    - MP3/AAC/AAC+/eAAC+/WMA player VS No
    - TV out VS No
    - Stereo FM Radio with RDS VS No
    - Push to talk VS No

    I am sure iPhone has killer looks (Women would love it) and nothing compares to it…however, smart Indian people would make a sensible call! I am sure Nokia would price it much more competitively than Apple. My guess is around 24-28K in market.

  8. August 21, 2008 at 5:42 pm #

    As the article rightly points out, the Indian market does not really care about the ‘premium’ that the iPhone has to offer. All they want is more features..
    For the first time in its history, Apple has stepped outside its walled garden to deliver a product with other partners too. I think they are fast learners and will soon show us another example of disruptive innovation.

  9. August 21, 2008 at 5:53 pm #

    sorry for posting again.. I could not find the Tim Berners-Lee post that you mentioned in the post. The pictures and the story was by a guy called Cyriac Roeding?

  10. richa
    August 21, 2008 at 9:30 pm #

    N96 is a sure short winner…. after sachin’s post is there need for more discussions on this… N96 is a much more feature packed phone and worth the money.. Nobody minds shelling out more moolah for a gud product… Even if N96 priced at 37K ill go for it, atleast its value for my hard earned salary…

  11. August 23, 2008 at 12:59 am #

    @Jitendre, @Sidharth, @ Abhishek, @Sameer,

    Agreed. Thats what seems to be the common sentiment. The iPhone is too expensive.


    Yes, I completely agree with you. In a side-by-side comparison, Nokia N96 beats the iPhone by a wide margin. India sure is a price sensitive market. Lets see what’s in store for the iPhone.

    That article is not by Tim Berner Lee. Tim pointed to that article in his Twitter update.

    It was being thought that the iPhone will win over the ladies with its drop-dead good looks. Seems, the ladies are more practical than we imagined. :)

    Thanks for commenting. Please come back for more.

  12. August 25, 2008 at 5:22 pm #

    I am also shocked by iPhone’s price tag. As per your earlier estimate I thought they would charge anywhere between 22K-26K :(

    N96 is feature rich. Even this one is going to cost 32K-37K. But then, it’s still last generation phone ( read no touch screen ). That’s the pulling factor for this device.

    I think I’ll live with my Nokia 3230 for one more year :)

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