I am writing (most of) this post on my iPhone 3G[S] using Airtel in New Delhi. The 3G[S] is not available in India yet and there is no information publicly available about a pending release or pricing.
I suspect, that Apple is terribly disappointed with iPhone 3G sales through its Indian partners, Airtel and Vodafone. On the flipside, Apple provides no support for the iPhones they sell in India. The only support available is through the carriers, who, from experience and from what others have said, can’t even properly activate an iPhone. Apple really can’t blame them.
In India, why has Apple abandoned their philosophy of controlling every aspect of their customers’ experience with their products? The 3G sells through official channels for anywhere between Rs. 30k and Rs. 35k. It’s not cheap by any standard. Blackberry, on the other hand is selling all their models in India like hotcakes. A few people I have met who bought iPhones through official channels in India have exhibited an incredible amount of frustration at the device and the (lack of) support behind it. One person said it took Vodafone almost a month to get data working on his iPhone and they had no answer for his dropped calls. Not exactly another notch in Apple’s customer service utility belt.
Those in India who bought the phone through unofficial or grey market channels have paid a premium for the device. They face extreme frustration when dealing with the carriers and they knew they would get no support from Apple (unless they were lied to by the vendor and told that they would get support from Apple – yes, vendors in India do lie). For the moment, Apple has lost the Indian high-end mobile phone market to Blackberry and Nokia. Until the carriers offer better service, true unlimited data plans, and better speeds, only gadget freaks like me and those trying to be seen with the sexiest phone on the market will be paying the massive premiums for an iPhone in India. Currently, an unlocked (not sure if it’s factory or hacktivated) iPhone 3G[S] sells for anything between Rs. 45,000 (USD 980) and Rs. 55,000 (USD 1,200) in places like Khan Market in New Delhi.
My bet is that India will see an iPhone 3G[S] sometime in the late Spring at which point, Apple will be getting ready to roll out the next version of the iPhone just a few months later in the US and other countries. Come on Apple, haven’t you figured out that Indians will gladly pay a premium for great hardware. It’s the software they will never pay for.