Thursday, August 27

iPhone 3GS: India launch won't happen any time soon

Its been a long wait here in India for iPhone fans to get hold of iPhone 3GS. There has been no news about its launch date though Apple had said Aug 2009. With just 3 days left, an August launch looks impossible. Major tech websites have been spinning up launch dates beginning August 9 to Sept 18. 
I got a chance to convince an old friend of mine to get some information on what could be the reasons for delay.  As a well placed insider he does know the dates but wouldn't disclose the same due to obvious reasons.

However what I interpret from our conversation is:

India isn't in their top priority list. Apple iPhone 3GS launch could be delayed by months if negotiations with Vodafone n Bharti doesn't fall through anytime soon.

Major concerns raised by Vodafone n Bharti are:

  1. Limited market size of few hundred phones.
  2. Near 50% of early adopters n iPhone fans have already brought from Grey market.(similar to original iPhone case in 2007)
  3. Without 3G and poor internet usage, there is no compelling reason for upgrades. Unlike other countries, average data traffic via iPhone have been low in India.
  4. Poor PC and Internet penetration. Many iPhones still running on v1 firmware.
  5. Indian market specific issues like lack of file sharing, poor speaker volume and other miscl reasons.

Hence they aren't willing to agree on Apple's demands which include:

  1. Committed volumes for cheaper pricing
  2. Cheaper n more attractive data n voice plans and better EDGE networks
  3. Apple is unhappy about the way iPhone 3G was promoted. (Blackberry storm was given a better push)
  4. Unlike Nokia and many others which are carrier independent, iPhone is locked to network and thus operator's offerings has a major impact on sales.

Moreover, Both parties aren't eager because:

  1. Studies shows that high end phone sales essentially doesn't translate to bigger usage bills.
  2. Indian Market is unfamiliar to Apple and it's content delivery model which includes iTunes
  3. High end phone sales have been driven by social status n peer pressure demands and most features (areas were iPhone excel) remains poorly used.

Thus iPhone 3GS launch depends on how soon both parties arrive at a deal. It seems shortage of stocks isn't a concern and the real issue is at what rates operators will buy from Apple which in-turn depends on the volume that operators can commit on.
Bottom-line is that iPhone 3GS launch won't come anytime soon unless we get really lucky.

My good friend also hinted on a possibility of coupling Apple 3GS launch with 3G network services launch which is currently under testing.

Now all this is disappointing. Till today I hoped every upcoming Friday could be a possibility. Oh, I really hope what I heard is wrong and that those guys hv already finalized the negotiations. However, there is no question of switching sides. I would rather wait than go for N97