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IPhone India rollout to be world’s largest

Apple’s iPhones will be sold through about 2.5 lakh Vodafone and Airtel retail outlets including franchisee owned shops, reports Venkatesh Ganesh.

business Updated: May 13, 2008 22:02 IST
Venkatesh Ganesh

The rollout of Apple, Inc’s iPhones in India is set to be the largest, anywhere in the world. It is understood from industry sources that Apple’s iPhones will be sold through about 2.5 lakh Vodafone and Airtel retail outlets including franchisee owned shops.

This rollout would be mammoth when compared to iPhones being available only in about 7000 AT&T outlets in the US apart from the Apple Stores.

“Most phone makers want their products in as many stores as possible and Apple is changing its strategy from exclusivity to wider availability,” said an analyst from a brokerage house who did not wish to be named.

Airtel announced yesterday that they would be selling iPhones in India. Earlier Vodafone inked a deal last week to rollout iPhones in 10 countries including India.

Additionally, Apple will be selling iPhones through its own outlets, which are very few in number. Industry observers say that the distribution network would cover all metros and leading tier II towns. When contacted Airtel spokespeople said that they are working on the distribution strategy and cannot comment on that at present. Vodafone officials did not respond to emails seeking details of the roll-out.

However, people involved with the distribution indicated that the iPhone, priced at Rs 23000 will be targetted at ‘high-end’ mobile phone users whose monthly bills exceed of Rs 1000. They said agreements with franchisees would also be worked out. It is another first in India – franchisees do not sell iPhones in USA.

Bharti is working out plans on bundling iPhones along with its broadband through its Telemedia services department that currently has 794,000 broadband customers as on March this year. India currently has 37 million Internet users, according to Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).