Yesterday, the iPhone's price was revealed to be a staggering Rs. 31,000 for the 8GB version, and an even more mind-boggling Rs. 36,100 for the 16GB version. Incidentally, just what do you think made them add the Rs. 100 to the 36,000 label? Bizarre.
Our contact at Bharti Airtel suggested that the price will drop after six months -- a too-obvious a fact. The person also suggested that the markup on the iPhone will be used to upgrade the carrier's network capabilities. What exactly that meant, was not clarified. So are we essentially looking at a six-month tax to pave the way to a better network?
We want it, but can't afford it
We ran a few polls to gauge and chart our reader interest over the iPhone 3G. Back in June, we asked "Which of the upcoming phones would you like to own?" Needless to say the iPhone 3G took an overwhelming lead over other contenders, the HTC Touch Diamond and Samsung i900 Omnia: over 50% of our readers wanted to pick up the iPhone 3G. And who could fault them over that decision? When the iPhone 3G was announced by Apple, everyone felt a rising optimism as it became clear that this iPhone will see international skies; followed by elation over the Vodafone and Airtel announcements.
On the 19th of August, we asked our readers how much they would pay for the iPhone 3G. This time, the majority put their ideal price at Rs. 11,000 to Rs. 15,000 (46% of the votes cast), with an additional 32% only willing to pay between Rs. 8,000 and Rs. 10,000. Thus, an overwhelming majority of our readers wanted the iPhone 3G, and an equally overwhelming majority did not want to pay a paisa beyond Rs. 15,000 to own one. One wonders whether such an analysis was even made by those that priced the iPhone 3G.
As an aside, even our reviewer concluded that he would not have hesitated to pick up the iPhone, without 3G though it currently is, at half its asking price -- an opinion that dovetails into what our readers think its price ought to have been.
That very few would buy the iPhone 3G at over Rs. 30,000 is also borne by the results of the poll currently running on our website. Only 5% of the voters showed interest in buying the iPhone at its revealed price.
The reactions over the price have been very emotional, to say the least. Some felt betrayal over the move, like Arunava from Kolkata: "We had great faith on Apple and Vodafone till date. But the current pricing strategy seems to be a slap on our face." Future from Delhi seemed to sum up our reader's feelings when he commented, "NO one's gonna buy this thing for that price. It would be completely foolish to do such a thing." Others were less generous in their comments: "iPhone is going to be flop as soon as it is launched", said Ugander from Hyderabad. "Does Vodafone + Airtel really think that Indian customers are stupid?" asked Ankan Bhowmick from New Delhi, and reflecting upon the market research the price must have entailed Deep Kamal Sing from Indore suggested that "...it seems vodaphone India's marketing analyst have done very awesome research sitting inside their cozy AC cabins... many marketing researches are going to be fired soon..."
Some suggested a boycott, while others advised waiting for the price to drop; yet others suggested alternatives -- popular among them being the Nokia N96 and the HTC Diamond.
It seems that Apple, Vodafone and Airtel have squandered a good opportunity here.
Some will buy it anyway
We reported earlier that Bharti Airtel received over 2.5 million inquiries for the Apple iPhone 3G and expects a 30% conversion rate. If our own readers are to be used as a yardstick for popular opinion -- then not more than 5% of them are interested in picking up the iPhone 3G at its asking price. Which would still make it a relatively impressive 125,000 units sold. Note that this is just for Airtel. Early adopters will still snap up the product, it is after all an attention-grabber, if not quite a status symbol yet.
What do you think will bring the iPhone's price down? Will it take the usual 6-month cycle? Or will a lack of traction force the carriers and Apple to reduce pricing quicker? Would the price see greater sales in the gray-market? Would unlocked phones carry the day? It would be very interesting to see how the market reacts with the older iPhone's pricing: the original sells for around Rs. 20,000 in the gray market -- will its price see a hike to meet demand triggered but unsatiated due to price? How many of you are willing to import it, now that the official prices are known?