Airtel ties up with Apple to launch iPhone
India's largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel announced a tie-up with US-based Apple Inc to bring the popular GSM-based iPhone in the country, reports Venkatesh Ganesh.
Not everything looks hunky dory with Apple’s iPhone. Facing pressure on sales Apple, Inc is abandoning exclusive tie-ups and is betting on two horses in markets like India and Australia to sell the iPhone. Surely it will lead to lower prices when iPhone reaches India close to Dussera.
Low sales have already led to price cuts for the iPhone this year. The launch of iPhone’s 3G-version (that includes features that will enable to surf Internet on mobile phone without GPRS technology) has got delayed. Two popular models are out of stock in the US and British markets and the iPhone is contributing to only five per cent of Apple’s revenues, says web portal Vnunet.com.
With mobile phones always sold a lot lower than their maximum retail price in India, competition between Vodafone and Airtel will ensure a better prices for the consumer. In a departure from its global strategy, Apple announced that it has signed a deal with Bharti to sell its iPhones from its retail outlets.
This means about one lakh Airtel retail shops in India will sell iPhones through its distribution network. Jill Tan, Apple spokeswoman told HT, “We will be working with Bharti Airtel to bring the iPhone to India later this year, and are looking to get this in the hands of even more people around the world. "
Bharti has signed an ‘independent’ agreement that will allow it to sell iPhone handsets in India, the company said in a release. While no further details were given, according to industry sources Bharti will start selling iPhoes by Dusshera or start of the festive season. It will be priced at Rs. 23000. Last week Vodafone who is a global partner of Apple said that it is bringing the iPhone to India, but people will have to subscribe to a Vodafone connection if they want to use an iPhone.
This coincides with the launch of Vodafone’s Airtel who is bringing iPhone to India along with nine countries. When contacted, an Airtel spokesperson said that specific details are being worked upon.
Apple has announced that in other places like Australia and Italy it will sell its handsets through different mobile operators and not restrict to a single operator, which was the case earlier.
This strategy underlines the importance of the Indian telecom market that is seeing average subscriber additions of 5 million subscribers every month. Also, with a slowdown in the US economy, Apple wants to push iPhone sames in the second largest market after China and iPhone is looking at a different strategy to increase their sales volumes,” says an analyst.
The total number of wireless subscribers was 250.93 million at the end of February 2008, compared with 260.5 million in US and 550.5 million in China.