New Delhi: Telecom service provider Vodafone has announced that it will offer the iconic Apple iPhone in India, with a starting price of Rs31,000 for the 8GB model.
Vodafone disseminated this information via SMS to customers who had pre-registered with the company during the past few weeks. Vodafone has also confirmed the pricing for the 16GB model at Rs36,100.
It remains to be seen whether this pricing is applicable to 'unlocked' iPhones, or those with a bundled plan. Vodafone is one of two operators in India who would be offering the iPhone, the other being Bharti Airtel. (See: After Vodafone, Apple ropes in Airtel to launch iPhones in India)
In its home market of the United States, a bundled plan with AT&T as the service provider, which includes usage as part of the package deal, for an 8GB iPhone is around $199, which at the current exchange rate of Rs43.78 works out to Rs8,712, making the pricing of the iPhone in India, almost four times more expensive.
Service providers in the US typically charge around $100 as the service plan, which is around Rs4,378, in addition to the initial price.
An unlocked iPhone costs around $550 in the US, which the user is free to use on any 3G network. in India 3G networks are scheduled for launch next year. That translates to Rs24,079, which is again lower than the Indian prices.
Bharti Airtel's pricing is still unclear, but with Vodafone having laid out its threshold, Airtel would need to maintain the same level, or lower, in order to retain customers who would want to use the iPhone.
With number portability around the corner, the iPhone could well be one more reason for customers to switch to the 'other' player.
Vodafone has asked its prospective customers to pay Rs10,000 as an advance to confirm their booking of the iPhone on 20 August – 21 August, and has said that it would intimate buyers to pay the balance and collect the iPhone, at an appointed date and time.
Bharti Airtel had announced that Airtel subscribers would be able to buy the iPhone at Airtel's Relationship Centres starting 22 August. An ad on Vodafone's Indian website cites the same date for the launch of the iPhone on its network here.
The 3G iPhone boasts of faster downloads, an in-built GPS system and direct connections to YouTube, among other features.
The iPhone is being seen as a game changer in the highly competitive Indian market, as presently no handset manufacturer offers anything similar.