iPhone 4S finally arrives in India

The much awaited Apple iPhone4S has finally arrived in India. Indian telecom operators Aircel and Bharti Airtel launched the iPhone 4S in India at midnight on Nov 24th 2011. Contrary to the phenomenon being observed in most of the countries, Apple is increasingly being criticized for the pricing of their iPhones in India. The retail prices at which iPhone 4S variants will be made available are substantially higher than the last generation iPhone 4. Both Aircel and Bharti Airtel have priced the 16 GB variant at INR 44,500 ($867), and the 32GB variant at INR 50,900 ($990). At its launch price of INR 44,500, the iPhone 4S (16GB) will indeed be costlier in India than any other market around the world. The maximum price differential will be around 30%, much to the disappointment of the Indian consumers.

Being a price-sensitive market, India has not been very welcoming to the iPhone unlike other markets, which is quite evident from the fact that Apple currently has less than 0.4% share of the Indian market. Moreover, competitors like Samsung, RIM and Nokia have been increasing their focus on India, so much so as to include India among the primary list of countries to launch their latest products. In terms of pricing also, they price their models at par with the rest of the world.

"India is one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the world and for Samsung, it is among the top three mobile markets globally. We are working at further strengthening our presence here.” JS Shin, South-West Asia Head for Samsung said to “The Times of India”. Asked about Apple and its growing profile in the market, he said Samsung is not worried about the expansion by the US technology giant here. "We have a wider product portfolio here, we have a R&D center to provide localized solutions and we are manufacturing phones here. We are closer to the market."

So why possibly would Applenotwant to do this? Are they not keen on the second largest growing market in the world?

No clear answer is forthcoming from Apple. One of the key reasons could be the fact that Apple relies on in-direct sales channels for the Indian market and therefore does not have a direct say in final retail price. Other factors include taxes, import duties and exchange rate to name a few. Not to forget the carrier subsidy, a major component in bringing down handset prices.

More is needed to be done by Apple to overhaul its distribution and sales strategy for India if it ever hopes to increase its market-share in India.​