The iPhone 3GS was supposed to launch in India on Aug 9th, as announced by Phil Schiller during his Keynote Address a few months ago. Obviously there is not a squeak from Apple yet. Many of the blogs are speculating about the delay. Abhimanyu of ET has put forth his theories.
The possible reasons cited include:
– The state of affairs with Apple India: In June this year, Apple’s India CEO resigned under a cloud. It could very well be that Apple wanted to get the ship back in order before launching the iPhone 3GS. But I find the link a bit tenuous. Apple seems far too organized and focused on systems that they would let this development affect the launch date, though it is likley.
– Fallout of Apple with Airtel & Vodafone regarding lack of subsidy: the high entry cost for the iPhone in India was a result of the telcos not offering a bundled plan. In most markets, the telcos linked the handset to a data plan that bound the consumer for 2 years. In markets where they didn’t offer such a bundled plan the cost has been fairly high (e.g. Vodafone New Zealand).
Of the many theories floating, the most plausible reasons, in my view are:
– De-prioritization of India as a market: should that read de-de-prioritization? India was never in the radar of Apple though they have been giving politically correct statements about ‘continuing to invest in a growing market like India’. But they may choose to play to their strengths in other markets where they can be more sure of success.
– Negotiations with telecom service providers: now I am doing some high quality kite flying with this. I am hoping that the telecom providers and Apple are discussing possibilities of bringing down the entry barrier. Possibilities: slim.
– Stock issues: as mentioned here, Apple is having a tough time meeting the demand for iPhone 3GS in core markets like the US. The lead time for delivery of the phone is 7-14 days in the US. So, it is natural that they take care of an already existing demand and live with a delay of a few weeks in India.
Either way, will the launch create bee-lines for the iPhone 3GS, like it did elsewhere? Unlikely. Will it garner more sales than the previous avatar? Unlikely. Will it help sell the iPhone 3G (which may see a price reduction)? Perhaps. But guranteed that people will continue to whine about it’s high price and missing features. Every 2nd blog will have some asinine comment about how some other phone has a better camera or other features. Pity that the real breakthrough element of an ipod-plus-internet device-plus mobile phone has never been leveraged the right way in India. It perhaps never will be, since Apple and the telcos blew up their first chance.