iPhone India launch: Aug 18?

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Tech2 claims that Vodafone India will launch the iPhone 3G on Aug 18. Pricing and ‘other essentials’ are unknown. No official word from Apple yet.

If you scroll down the comments, it is typical of the anti-iPhone sentiment that is likely to prevail. The most trivial of reasons are found to trash the iPhone. ‘The browser does not support flash’ – so don’t buy the iPhone. It does not have video recording – so don’t buy it, etc. As if with their current phone people use video recording 24 hours a day, use mp3 songs as ringtone and put all its features to use at once. So what if the iPhone does not have all the bells & whistles? It scores way above other phones on one thing: user experience. I use an iPod Touch and beleive me, the internet never looked so good or easy on a mobile device as it does here. And I have used the N Series and E Series of the world.

And oh, us Indian’s want a product to deliver everything and yet be made cheap. We want the iPhone to make calls, browse the web, send SMS, read minds, make coffee, scratch back, pick nose and yet be priced under Rs. 10,000. I was in a meeting the other day, where a client expressed similar sentiments about the Indian consumer when it comes to biscuits. She wants glucose, vitamins, minerals, grains, health, energy, nutrition and ‘maa ka aashirvad’ in her biscuit – all at 4 bucks!

Anyway, I wonder if the Aug 18 date is true? Now, do I wait for Airtel to announce date or switch to Vodafone? Decisions, decisions.

UPDATE: Check out this great post from the super-talented Krish Ashok.

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  1. Bhatji,
    A person may not use video recording 24 hours a day.
    But he may need it when the time comes. If the phone doesn\’t support a feature, the user feels handicapped.

    And considering the fact that Nokia phones at Rs 2000/- are having video recording, it\’s natural that a user feels he doesn\’t get value for his money with his new iPhone.

    Indians don\’t go after hype (some do, but not all. You can\’t conquer market with hype. At least not in India). They go after value for money.

    Manufactures have to accept this fact. It is not easy to capture Indian market. You really have to sweat.

  2. hi Anoop, thanks for the comment. I agree that India is not an easy market and cannot be captured by hype. In fact, no market can be captured with just hype. My point was about the overall user experience of the iPhone. Sure, the iPhone has flaws and other phones will score over it on some feature. But I believe its a game changer when it comes to how a mobile is used. And on an overall basis, nothing like the competition. It is not meant for everyone and a majority would prefer Symbian or Windows OS phones. As an aside, I would say that just as ‘Mac Fanboys’ drool over everything Apple makes it is fashionable for some to trash Apple beacuse they see it as hype and nothing else. While I am a Mac fan, I don’t see it as the answer for all computing and phone needs that people may have.

  3. One thing to note though is that the Indian mobile user is, on an average, more mobile tech-savvy than the average North American or European. I have very rarely seen Americans bluetooth files to another phone, set mp3 ringtones (because they usually “buy” songs with DRM) or send MMS messages (heck, even reading SMS messages is not free in the US). So, in that sense, one can see that the iPhone was designed for the person who is not necessarily tech savvy.

    But I would disagree with Anoop on the hype thing. Urban, yuppie, middle-class indians are the most hype-sensitive in the world. Status symbols matter more than anything else. India is the only place where people will answer phone calls in the theatre, just to show their 8 GB N95 off. So, I think the iPhone will sell, despite all the negative reviews about MMS (oh damn, where will I get my bollywood celebrity nude MMS fix now?) or shooting videos (what? no more voyeurism on public transport?) and bluetooth file transfer (what? I can’t send all those pirated mp3s to my friends?)

  4. Krish, I agree that India is more mobile-savvy than the US. They still operate largely on analog networks and don’t have the Value Added Services we take for granted. My US-based bro was wide eyed listening to the ring tones here. On the hype front, the iPhone trashers suggest that Apple is all hype and no content- and that bugs me no end. I remember seeing a CNBC-TV18 review of the Macbook – the reviewer said that it was over priced, lacks features becasue it does not have a PCIMCA card slot and all that its good for was playing with the F11 (Expose) key! Whether iPhone is a rage or not in India, depends on the volume targets Apple has for India.

  5. It does not have video recording

    yes, it does not. And yes, we do need video recording. Wouldn’t you rather have something instead of not having it at all? And seriously, it is a BASIC functionality. Even the sub-5k phones have it. So why not the iPhone?

    can’t [..]use mp3 songs as ringtone
    yes, I do use mp3 songs on my phone as ringtone. I wouldn’t like to be seen with the same ringtone that every other phone user uses. Again, the basic models have it. WHy not the iPhone?

    Consider the lack of bluetooth connectivity with other phones. What’s up with that? And once again, even the OLDest of the old phones can do proper data transfer between other phones. So HAH!

    Copy-paste. Where did that go? Ain’t that something cramping so-called “user experience”?

    I am looking to buy the iPhone myself, but seriously, I do not say that it is better than the N & E series phones from Nokia. They are entirely different. Are the N series phones still stuck with the ancient 2MP cam with no flash? Hell no. Xenon flash with a 5MP cam FTW.

  6. Santosh, thanks for the comment. Yes, the iPhone lacks some features fond even in the most basic of competing phones. It may not pass muster with a large number of users in India. But I can only speak for myself. I use an E Series now but hardly use the video recording or MMS facility. Will I miss them if my phone did not have them? Yes, I will. Do I feel that the iPhone is still better for an overall user experience? Sure do. Having used ‘an iPhone without the phone’ – the iPod Touch, I find web browsing a pleasure only on this mobile device. For me the big deal about the iPhone is the OS, the interface, the App Store and overall ease of use. I am willing to overlook the flaws (and there are many) and trade in what I believe is a better user experience. Naturally, many (especially in India where the Apple halo is non-existent) would see it as typical fanboy talk. It is perhaps to do with Apple as brand evoking that kind of loyalty in some.

  7. Hi,
    After seeing all the comments here..i feel there are lot of wrong sentiments abt iphone in india.i Personally use a first gen(2.5G) iphone in india. Here are some things we can do on a jailbroken iphone or iphone with appstore(i have both).
    1. yes , video recording is possible with third party apps.(presently the app is not available for 2.0, but soon will).
    2. iphone 2mp camera is way better than, thanks to the big viewfinder, the whole screen(3.5″ screen) picture.
    3. Mp3 ringtones are possible in jailbroken iphone(jail breaking is very simple).
    4. Nextversion 2.1 has copy-paste support.
    Iphone has some features where mainstream high end indian mobile users never heard of(trust me, i was clueless before i got my hands on iphone)

    1. it has accelerometer, play super monkey ball with iphone, u will know.
    2. a very good stock app, which updates your stock symbols with yahoo finance.
    3. a very good mail client, accessing your mails never been so easy.
    4. full html browser(can you guys tell me one phone which has full html browser. Opera mini is crap)
    and one more things for apple haters, Can you tell one company which releases a phone and keeps updating the firmware( i myself updated 4 times, and each update brings new features).

  8. Suresh, I am not a fan of jailbreaking but agree wholeheartedly on all the points! Opera Mini or any browser (even in Communicator with a wide screen) is no match to the iPhone/iPod Touch. Apart from the in-built stocks (even the weather looks mouth watering!) the App Store has really cool Apps. I have posted some screen shots in my earlier post. And if you have wi-fi, Virgin Radio and other radio stations are available. Despite all this, we have only seen the beginning of Apple haters in India. They will get louder closer to the iPhone and future updates/launches.

  9. I would compare the i phone, like i would the mac, to a 7 star hotel meal. The food’s never as good as you expect it to be. But the service,ambience and show off value- UNPARALLELED! I am one for paying that little extra just for the experience. If you want good food, stay at home and eat mom’s cooking! If you want a good PC……need i say more?

  10. George, thanks for the comment. I don’t agree with the analogy though. Your analogy suggests that Mac is never as good and if you want a good PC, stick with non-Apple products. As someone who uses both, I could not disagree more.

  11. Well, the Mac versus PC debate will continue, as will the debate of the chicken and egg! But a gamer like myself will also have a ready defence for the PC! And that’s with no disrespect to the Mac whatsoever!

  12. I use a HTC Diamond that runs Windows Mobile 6.1. Without any jail breaking or installing crap-ware on my phone i can do every piece of shit the iPhone cannot do out of the box.

    The iPhone will be sold exclusively by Airtel / Vodafone so we can be assured that the phones are going to be LOCKED! That means once you install a third party application to break and make features with your mobile, please be assured your warranty on the phone is void. I’m just hearing from sladshot that the new firmware update for iPhone 3G is throwing many phones dead.

    Suppose that you installed a stupid application to enable video recording. Your firmware update crashes your phone, vodafone or airtel will ask you to buy a new phone of pay from your pocket for your service. That’s how serious it is. Apple products clearly are not for the middle class indian market if you are considering value for money.

    User experience is all about what features you provide and how effectively those features can be used in a reliable manner. The only thing i may buy the iPhone is for that zoom in and zoom out multi touch feature on the phone which i can use to impress non tech savvy figure’s and put some kadalai. Apart from that as a tech savvy smart phone user i have no use for the iPhone.

    In fact i would not even compare my HTC Windows Mobile to beat the iPhone. I own a Sony Ericsson p990i. Given any day it beats the crap out of the iPhone and does wonderful stuff.

  13. Dilip, thanks for the comment and a long ‘sigh’ on the iPhone hatred. Just as you cannot convince a non-Apple fan about why the Apple experience is superior, you cannot convince someone who has experienced the iPhone/iPod Touch that is crap, that too compared to HTC and the likes. The iPhone has redefined the way mobiles are used and as a smartphone user currently, my personal vote is for the iPhone vis-a-vis other smartphones.

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