India launch: Why the Apple iPhone may not be worth it

On launch day, Apple's iPhone is outrageously priced in India

On launch day, Apple's iPhone was outrageously priced

It would seem to be a case of party pooping if someone were to say thumbs down to Apple’s iPhone 3G which is making a high profile debut in India tonight, through Airtel and Vodafone. The report in The Hindu about its arrival is here. A more recent post on the poor feature sets of the iPhone 3G as reported by bloggers is here. The Hindu‘s first review of the iPhone 3G is here.

First off, the pricing of the phone is a rip-off, treating Indian customers so shabbily despite all that they have for the mobile phone industry in this country. Whether it was Apple’s idea or that of its partner-carriers, the thought of pricing the 3G phone at the equivalent of about 800 dollars and 900 dollars for the two specifications betrays true and dishonourable traditions of corporate greed. After all, the same phone with an AT and T connection costs only 199 dollars in the US at the base level. The only way to send out a message for this kind of Shylockism is to say a resounding “no” to the phone.

Even if you are very desperate to buy the phone for snob value, be aware that it has some limitations. Its credentials as a corporate phone with document handling abilities are a matter of controversy, as it is outperformed by other smart phones. User sentiment on the iPhone is partly reflected in this story in the New York Times, where the reader comments are as interesting, if not more than, the story itself.

Among the serious limitations that have been discussed in the blogosphere is the ability of the phone to record video. I searched Apple’s website this evening to see if they mention video as a feature of the camera, and I could not find the reference. If there is such a capability, I would have expected Apple to put it up there right with photo. Perhaps there is such a feature, and someone plainly forgot.

There are many posts on the web claiming that a particular app brings the video recording feature which was definitely absent in the first iPhone. We shall wait to see if that is true so far as the 3G model is concerned, and whether it costs a packet to add a functionality that is available as standard in most other (low-priced) GSM phones.

Whatever the performance ability of the iPhone, it has outpriced itself in relation to other smartphones from Nokia.

Personally, I have a problem with Nokia’s phones sold in India on questions such as build quality and after-sales service. The dealers are mostly pigeon-hole type establishments that lack the trained manpower and the sophistication required to deal with this technology-driven sector. Authorised service, as I have noted elsewhere, is abysmal. For a country that gave the cellular phone industry 286 million handset buyers [TRAI, June 2008] in its first decade, and offers a huge market that snaps up about 8 million phones a month, this is nothing short of criminal indifference.

Nokia should be worshipping Indian customers, but on the contrary, it thinks they are duty-bound to purchase its products with no expectations of better service. On the other hand, if all mobile phone owners were to form an association, at a contribution of just a rupee each a month, the new body would have 286 million rupees to start with. With that kind of money to drag it to consumer fora, Nokia can be persuaded to listen.

Apple has apparently learnt from Nokia’s profitable experience that this market has weak consumer awareness and even weaker laws on their rights, and can therefore skim off a good deal of money early, before the law of supply and demand, and pressure of competition catches up.

This Nokia smart phone is about 250 dollars cheaper than the iPhone.

This Nokia smart phone is about 250 dollars cheaper than the iPhone.

Having given a thumbs down to Nokia for its treatment of Indian customers on build quality and service, if not price, we must say that the Finnish company’s E series and some N series phones are sure to make Apple fans think again. Although it is far less hyped, for instance, the Nokia E71 packs a host of features that the iPhone does not appear to. For a start, its camera is good (at 3.2 megapixel) and its productivity features professional. Its connectivity options are simply amazing. The clincher is that it costs far less than an iPhone in India – almost Rs. 11,000 less, and is open to be used on any network!

So the early birds picking up an Apple iPhone with its current price and connection options may have another think coming. And soon enough.


One Comment

  1. Get out of the hype…

    Get a life..

    Boycott Apple, Airtel and Vodafone products, then their brains might actually start working..

    These lamers think that indians can pay more for the hype? Never..Whay should we pay more?


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