The price not nice
The 512 mb Ipod Shuffle 512 mb retails for $99 (approx. Rs 4500). But in India, it's being launched at the ridiculous price of Rs 8500 (Rs 12,400 for the 1 gb version).
I'd be surprised if they sell more than a few hundred units. Every iPod desiring young person in India will ask his or her friend/ sister/ uncle to get it from the US or Malaysia or Dubai.
It's the principle of the thing. Maybe the company has to pay heavy imports duties but that's their problem. WHY should we as consumers pay double the global price?
As long as such price differentials continue, sales of tech toys will never really go mass. It's the same story with digital cameras bought from official Sony showrooms in India. There's more than a 50% mark up on the Singapore price.
So yes, one can go to Heera Panna or Lamington Rd in Mumbai and buy in the grey market a little cheaper but that's something for the hard core enthusiast. To create desire for a product among the aam junta (regular folks) - it has to be seen everywhere. At your neighbourhood electronics walla, the local shopping mall, at dedicated shopping centres.
First, create tech lust
My first experience of a First World electronics bazaar was Akihabara in Tokyo - shop after multi storeyed shops devoted to computers, peripherals, digital equipment of every shape and size. You could touch and feel and shop around for deals. I was blown away.
Singapore's Funan IT mall is another mindboggler. And recently I was in Bangkok's Pantip plaza - messier and more chaotic than Singapore - but equally well stocked and bursting with goodies and gizmos. You spend the first two hours just looking.
Optical mice overflow from wicker baskets, the way you see aloos and gobhis in India. There are a hundred brands of bluetooth connectors and RS MMC cards and some mind blowing (and really cheap) lifesize speakers you can attach to your PC for true 4 channel surround sound.
So you go there with one thing in mind (I was looking for a handycam) but end up buying two more. Like I also picked up an MP3 flash player. I'd only vaguely heard of the product and never thought I needed or wanted one. But seeing it in shop after shop piqued my curiosity. The demo was convincing, and the price a reasonable Rs 2500.
OK, so it wasn't a famous brand like Creative (those were abt Rs 4500) but I'm satisfied. The unsung Taiwanese brand works fine - and feels good for the price.
The point is, I'm not a hard core techie. And there are many many more potential customers like me. People who don't actively seek out new technology by reading reviews on cnet or subscribing to Chip/ Digit. But given enough exposure to tech toys and the opportunity to browse through them, to actually see what they can do - we too can start lusting.
Show us the goodies!
It's happened in this country with mobile phones - it can happen with other technologies. But companies and retailers have to invest in growing the market. In educating consumers - not just the geek population. And there must be a range of prices and brands available - for every kind of budget and in many, many locations.
Only then will tech buys rightfully be able to compete with clothing, entertainment and all the other staple purchase decisions in a young person's life.
The Walkman was a necessary accessory for students commuting to and fro from college. It was swept away by inexpensive FM 'stick' radios. But the sticks fell out of favour once every panwallah and chaiwallah bought one too and now cellphones with FM radio function rule.
The age of IPod? Not yet for India. And not ever, unless better marketing sense prevails.