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Vodafone To Launch iPhone In India This Year

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So, we eat humble pie. Vodafone confirms a month old Business Standard story, it will launch the iPhone in India along with Australia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey, later this year. What will be the price? According to the BS story, the 8GB was slated to cost Rs 27 – 28k. Assuming custom duties on cellphones is 5%, at the current retail price in the US of Rs 16k (8GB) and Rs 20k (16GB), a very conservative estimate taking into account allied taxes and duties should be around Rs 21k (8GB) and around 25k (16GB), which would be needed to put it on par with the current rates in the greymarket.

However, what value does an official release add? The most attractive feature of the iPhone is the ability to add third party applications, the variety and functionality of which is what makes it great as a platform. Having used the vanilla 16GB version without any applications, I can attest to it being a rather boring piece of gadgetry without the added third party functionality.Lastly, I doubt landing costs will permit it to debut at a price south of Rs 21k for the 8GB version, which means Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) will have to use some of its $2 billion Indian warchest to subsidize it. If it does, it will go on to lock people into draconian plans to prevent them from defecting, and we all know how that will work out. Hint: Tons of people applying for cell phone insurance to claim loss. Regardless, the iPhone, in its vanilla operator locked form, is a crippled piece of great hardware, one whose true value can only be unlocked. Pun intended.

As an aside, in the past two months, through my iPhone, I have detected over 300 wifi spots in the Bombay suburbian area within a 13km range. While over 80% of these are protected, it would be interesting to explore the potential of creating a wifi-mesh. The iPhone has a Wifi spot chronicler that points spots on a Google (NSDQ: GOOG) map mashup, if anyone out there is doing the same, drop in a line in the comments.

28 Responses to “Vodafone To Launch iPhone In India This Year”

  1. Som Dutt Goyal

    Dear Sir,

    I have Vodafone Mobile number 9811923588 with plan of 3 years (post paid connection). I have observed that:
    Pst Paid Connection charges Lifetime Connection Charges
    1. Local Call @ Rs. 1.75 + 12.5 % Vat Rs. 1.00
    2. STD Call @ Rs. 2.40 + 12.5 % Vat Rs. 1.50

    The difference in Local/STD Calls is very much on higher side in compare to lifetime connection as mentioned above. I have paid the due bill in advance please check the record. Vodafone concern takes no pain for the customer who paid the bill in advance or in time after taking 3 years pan i.e. Rs. 700/-. It is requested that the rates of my number may please be decreased or my number may be transferred in Life Time Scheme. Further I have no option to change the concern.

    Thanking you,

    Yours truly,

    (Som Dutt Goyal)

  2. Srini

    Hey Everybody,

    First of all – I must congratulate everyone out here. One of the rare few blogs that I have read on iPhone where people are talking sense. People like Cerius, Harshil, Dharm to name a few.

    Secondly, I am still not so sure if Vodafone is really going to launch later this year. Although they did say that they will be launching in India, somehow, my instincts tell me (I do not have any rationale for this) that it's going to get delayed. So – the timelines might be in question here.

    Secondly, what is it about these third party applications? You mean to say we cannot install third party applications on a grey market purchased iPhone? And is this the only difference between an iphone purchased through the Grey market and one purchased through vodafone or whoever?


  3. Dharm

    First of all, the third party app developers have to be in usa right now and are going to be launched there only. Second, they might get available in future in other countries where apple has iTunes/online purchase stores which doesn't include India. So, it would require a very special endeavor on part of Vodafone to increase sale of iphone in india. Any estimates ? I would wonder if they could sell 10000 iphones per month in india i.e. 0.1% market share after a year.

    Also does anyone know how many macs are there in india ?

  4. @ Cerius: Indigenous apps would be born because of market forces. Indigenious apps would be made by 3rd party developers anyway.

    Wi Fi hotspots at strategic locations run by a single company at prices that can compete with Telecom operators is a tried and tested model worldwide. So you can have 10, 000 routers all over the city at hotspots – the company could engage in tie ups and the like. The consumer wins. Good prices. Good Speeds. Good connectivity.

    Wi Max does have a few problems but wi – max when converted to wi fi for end point consumption is a good option.

  5. @Harshil: A wifihotspot, if anything, is a bad idea. Besides users on company accounts, only a marginal lot pay the Rs 100 odd per hour premium to have internet connectivity when it costs half that monthly to have email access. Maybe in airports, but nowhere else. Bandra, for eg, has atleast three places where regulars pay for the coffee and get the wifi free. Secondly, out of the 300, not probably, all of them are private wifi routers. There is a way around it though, Wimax, as you know, still has tons of teething troubles. You are partly wrong about indigenous apps, no matter how customized, they can beat the volume, depth and innovation of third party apps (both paid/adsupported)

  6. Dhawal


    I've been using the iphone for the past 6-7 months in delhi now. but i've never heard of this feature which you pointed out. "The iPhone has a Wifi spot chronicler that points spots on a Google map mashup"

    Am i missing something ?

  7. Hey Cerius,

    Nice Post. The 300 odd networks you have seen are probably individual wireless routers. So i doubt the possibility of creating a mesh exists at all. A mesh needs dual radios, A & G. one to recieve, one to send. And it needs equipment that is much more powerful (and also more bulky). Best case scenario would be for a company to create Wi Fi hotspots around the city at strategic locations and charge its patrons. Reliance has already started using WiMax which they are converting into Fixed Wireless for homes. They could easily exploit their WiMax capabilities to transport bandwidth to various locations and then convert that bandwidth at certain locations and then form wi fi hotspots till ofcourse they can create a full fledged mesh.

    Have you used the iPhone in the US? It doesn't seem boring there because the applications on the standard phone were tailor made for that country. Here the functionality of certain standard applications is limited. But you're right. With more third party applications, it will be a lot more interesting – and a lot more relevant for Indians.