iPhone 4 makes it to India

Shiv Putcha/Ovum
02 Jun 2011

Indian mobile operators Airtel and Aircel have launched the iPhone 4 in India, nearly a year after it was launched in the US.

The 16GB and 32GB models will be available for 34,500 rupees ($768) and 40,900 rupees respectively, making them four and three times more expensive than the corresponding devices in the US. The iPhone 4 will be available on both postpaid and prepaid plans that offer a combination of local voice minutes, SMSs, and a monthly data allowance.

The launch of the iPhone 4 is significant as it represents a marked shift by Indian operators, which have previously avoided tie-ups with device vendors. It also highlights an apparent shift in Apple’s strategy in India. While the high up-front cost of the iPhone 4 will limit broad adoption, Ovum expects that it will gain significant traction among high-value subscribers.

Both Airtel and Aircel’s iPhone 4 plans are expensive, offering voice, SMS, and data bundles at tiered monthly rates instead of offering a subsidy for the device. To reduce the focus on the high up-front cost of the device, both operators’ marketing strategies are focusing on the discounts and giveaways on offer.

The operators are highlighting that the value of the discounts and giveaways will provide users with savings of at least 50% over a two-year period, depending on the monthly rental chosen. Both operators have also introduced prepaid offers as they know that adoption among India’s huge prepaid base will be crucial for success.

The prepaid options from both operators offer no reductions on the device cost. Airtel’s prepaid plan offers similar benefits to its postpaid plans, including data allowances and bundles for on-net voice calls and SMSs, but fewer options for recharges. Aircel’s prepaid plans are structured differently. They have lower recharges available, and offer similar giveaways to the postpaid plans.

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