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Why this iPhone fever?

Zafar Anjum | Aug. 29, 2008
Why did people go crazy after the iPhone? Why did it generate so much public hysteria?

However, there were many who were enthusiastic about the product but are not happy with the pricing of the iPhone hereso they might have chosen to wait and watch before taking the plunge. For them publicity hasnt got the better of their sensibility!

Because, hidden behind all this passion for a gadget, is the power of publicity (and Apples reputation for combining winning design with killer functionality). I cannot agree more with what Gartner research director Robin Simpson said in an interview with MIS Australia (iPhone - is the hype justified? See the video here).

Simpson said that Apple has become a master of garnering free publicity in last few years. As he admits, certainly they have done a great job of innovating and bundling of innovations (not necessarily made by them) together as a product that end users find easy to use or stylish.

Disappointment in India

However, as I have read in reports and the blogs, the power of publicity could not do much for the iPhone in India.

According to Raju Narisettis blog in Mint (a Delhi-based financial daily that Narisetti edits), the launch response was muted in India amid reports of the steep prices for iPhones there--at least three times more than what they retail for in the US with service restrictions.

For Indian standards, the iPhones prices are so steep that even Narisetti says he is not in a hurry to buy one: As for me, if I had Rs37,000 (US$7,000) to burn, I know exactly what Sandeep Biswas archival photograph I am going to buy.

According to one Biswajeet Das who responded to Narisettis blog entry, a few factors dampened the iPhone launch in India. Reports suggested that sales were extremely slow - clearly indicating that the Indians still want a Value For Money product, he opined.

The other factors he enumerated were how Indian business people still loved their Blackberries (which has a QWERTY keyboard) and lack of a customized marketing campaign for India (unlike Nokia which does a lot of local campaigns).

Makes sense to me as well.

But the most interesting aspect of the whole iPhone affair, in India, is the strange case of reverse racism in the sale of iPhones that Narisetti has pointed out. Apparently, Bharti Airtel Ltd. CEO Manoj Kohli said in an interview with Mint: Most consumers seem to prefer the black iPhone, unlike the white (body) model that is popular elsewhere in the world. We need to order more of the black ones. (Like SingTel, Bharti Airtel is distributing the iPhones in India; SingTel has some stake in the Indian telco too).


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