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iPhone can’t act pricey

It’s cool and trendy. But can iPhone, the cult device from Steve Jobs Apple that turned one year old on Sunday, take on India’s hot market when it launches in the cold of the coming winter? Ruchi Hajela reports.

india Updated: Jun 30, 2008 21:04 IST
Ruchi Hajela

It’s cool and trendy. But can iPhone, the cult device from Steve Jobs Apple that turned one year old on Sunday, take on India’s hot market when it launches in the cold of the coming winter?

The jury is out but Apple needs to watch out. The touchscreen device must cope with a price conscious market – and a bunch of affordable look-alikes from big brands including Korea’s LG and Samsung.

“India is a big market where about a 100 million handsets were sold last year and this year about 120 million devices are estimated to be sell,” said Anshul Gupta, Senior Research Analyst, Gartner.

Experts say even if Apple gets a one per cent share, a million iPhones will be sold.

The iPhone 3G model which is bundled with services now costs about $199 and $299 (Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000) for the 8GB and 16GB versions respectively in the US while unsubsidised models in Europe are expected to sell for about $771 and $880.

In India, iPhone will have to cope with a handset-only pricing regime because operators are not going to sell it with services for now.

"If Apple can bring down the price it can take the Nokia’s N-Series of multimedia devices head on, we can expect some shift in market share between the two companies," Gupta said.

Nokia’s much-hyped N95 that has some cool features that compete with iPhone retails at around Rs 28,000.

Handset manufacturers like Taiwan’s Hi-Tech Corp and Korea’s LG and Samsung have already introduced their iPhone look-alikes in India priced between Rs 11,000 and Rs 30,000.

More such devices are on the cards for India while market leader Nokia is also expected to introduce its own touchscreen device by the year-end.

Apple has sold about six million iPhone so far, and expects to sell about 10 million by the end of 2008. According to Gartner, about 1.7 million units of iPhone were sold during the January-March period this year, of the total 32 million "smartphones" sold during the period.

Smartphones, which are like hand-held computers, carry many features that enable Internet surfers perform many functions on the go. With the download of sound and video and activities like online trading becoming popular, high-end mobile handsets will increasingly compete with the smartphones that are already in the market.