The late Steve Jobs may have a crazy following in India but sadly, Indians often are second class citizens in the consumer universe of Apple. A thriving grey market feeds Apple-mad buyers.
The company introduced the iPod in the US in October 2001 but took long to hit the Indian shores. The iPhone was announced in the US in June 2007 but wasn't legally available to users in India till August 2008.
Whether it was the iPad, iPad 2, iPod Touch, iPod Nano, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3Gs and iPhone 4, the gap between the US launch and Indian arrival has been significant.
The first Apple retail store was brought to India by Mukesh Ambani's Reliance group only in 2007. Long before that grey markets such as Palika Bazaar in New Delhi, Fancy Market in Kolkata, Heera Panna in Mumbai and Burma Bazaar in Chennai were already selling all products on the Apple catalogue.
"There were only two ways of getting an iPod or an iPhone. Either get a relative or a friend to pick it up on their trip abroad or go to the grey market," said Kailash Rajdev, a close associate of a shop owner in Kolkata's Fancy Market.
Despite a growing number of exclusive Apple stores, the grey bazaars continue to thrive as they sell everything at lower prices because they avoid import duties and local taxes - but all buyers have to do is to register online to activate warranties.
Apple declined to speak to HT for this story.