Reminiscent of the craze that follows the release of Harry Potter books, crowds lined up outside a Gurgaon mall and a few shops in Delhi to pick up the latest Apple iPhone that went on sale at midnight Thursday in India. And no one was daunted by the Rs.30,000-plus price.
The Apple iPhone 3G (third generation) was launched across India by telecom majors Bharti Airtel and Vodafone.
Swati, a college student, was the first one to pick up an iPhone at Gurgaon's Sahara Mall. Swati was waiting at the Sahara Mall from 7 p.m. The phone was handed over to her by Sanjay Kapoor, president of Bharti Mobile Services.
The iPhone is priced at Rs.31,000 for 8GB and Rs.36,100 for 16GB of memory space.
The phones are being given on first come first serve basis.
Vodafone was selling its phones at 11 stores across Delhi, while Bharti was selling it only at the Shahara Mall.
The Vodafone outlet in Delhi's COnnaught Place had five people, including a school boy, waiting to pick up the latest gadget.
Rudra Khurana, 14, a student of Modern School, was one of the buyers of the iPhone 3G. He went for the expensive version at Rs.36,000.
"This is the coolest and best," said an excited Rudra, clutching his phoe.
"The best thing is that new features are added to it, and it also has a 16 GB iPod," he said.
Aditya Malik whooped with excitement after he bought his iPhone.
"I'm excited because I have got an Apple iPhone. I am not bothered about the price. Good things come at a price," Malik told IANS.
"I have been waiting for a year to buy one. Last year I missed buying the iPhone 2G, which was launched June 5, as I left for the US on June 3. Now I am very happy to have got the latest one," he said.
Nishant Arya, 22, a businessman, was equally happy though he has the earlier versions of the iPhone. "I already have five iPhones. This is the sixth. I bought it because my family wanted it. The earlier phones were 2G, this is 3G."
Bharti Airtel said the Apple iPhone will be launched across six cities in the country.
Rival Vodafone, the other authorised service provider for Apple in India, also launched the gadget at the same time.
The phone were sold at Hyderabad and Bangalore besides the four metropolitan cities and will be later introduced in 65 cities.
The iPhone are priced at Rs.31,000 for 8GB and Rs.36,100 for 16GB of memory space.
Airtel has received 200,000 pre-bookings for the phone since the process had started about two months back, said Airtel president (mobility) Sanjay Kapoor.
The phone comes locked to the service provider, which means a user cannot switch his or her operator while using an iPhone.
However, the availability of a number of software in the market for hacking the iPhone does not go unnoticed by the telecom operator.
''We are aware of the hacking software that are available and are used to unlock the iPhone, but the customers who will stay with Airtel will be able to enjoy iPhone's full benefits including the data plans," Kapoor said.
Currently, there are more than 30,000 iPhone users in India using the second generation of iPhones (2G), available in the grey market in India, Kapoor added.
The phone, which won Time magazine's coveted 'Invention of the Year 2007' honour, and marked the Cupertino-based computer giant's foray into the mobile phone arena, debuted in June last year.
Although Apple had then stated that India would get the phone by November 2007, it wasn't until this May that Bharti and Vodafone made public the upcoming launch of the phone.
According to a recent survey, more than 150,000 iPhones (2G) are already being used in the country, which have either been imported by enthusiasts or bought in the grey market.
"More than 30,000 iphone's (2G) are running on the airtel network alone," Sanjay Kapoor. president of the mobility division of Airtel said.
India till now has been the third largest unofficial market for iPhone after Russia and China.
Ironically, China where the phone is manufactured, still does not feature in Apple's roadmap for retailing the iPhone.