The iPhone is a 'beautiful breakthrough computer', the Wall Street Journal has declared. Folks are queuing up for it already, in New York. The company has no plans to launch the iPhone in Europe or Asia anytime soon. But that doesn't mean we won't get our grubby fingers on it...
DNA reports: According to dealers in Mumbai's Heera Panna shopping centre, the city's largest wholesaler in mobile handsets and iPods - the grey market has already placed orders for around 30-40 iPhones. The plans are to hawk it at prices that are Rs 7000-8000 more than the US base price of $500 (ie Rs 20,000).
Yes, the phone is currently rigged out to work with a single operator - AT & T - but never fear.
As Business Standard reports: Grey market operators say they can 'unlock' the phone for just Rs 1000 to Rs 1500 so that it can be used on any network in India. "Unlocking the iPhone isn't tough," said a dealer in central Delhi.
Cool, isn't it? But you have to ask, why won't Apple just go ahead and sell the phone officially? In India, and anywhere else in the world where there's a hunger for it??
Phir wahi bhool?
Fact is, India has never been a priority market for Apple. In the old days, ok, it did not matter.
The computer I worked on at my first job was a Mac. In the early 90s that was the ONLY computer any self respecting advertising agency or publishing house used for design work.
Today, there are still a few Mac fanatics - but very few. We embraced the more plebian but affordable PC, learnt to live with system errors and the Mac became a forgotten first crush.
Now, Macs are available at better prices but few consider buying them . There is just not enough exposure or marketing.
Then there's the iPod. In India, it sells mainly through the grey market. Official Apple resellers are few and far between and anyways, the pricing is a complete turn off. Again Apple itself did little to market the iPod. Khareedna hai to khareedo - aapki marzi.
The result is, the iPod is popular but other brands like Creative - and even generic mp3 players - have caught on too. With Sony marketing its Walkman phones and Nokia its 'Music Phones' a lot of young people don't even think they need an iPod.
A couple of weeks ago, for the first time, I noticed an ad from Apple in the Bombay Times. "If it ain't iPod, it ain't music' or some such headline and I thought,"Um... isn't this too little, too late?"
The moral of the story is that Apple is a guru at producing these amazing products. But then it would rather let them sell without much effort, especially overseas.
However we now have a global gizmo monster, hungry for the goods. India is Nokia's third largest market in terms of net sales. Of course, the monochrome and low-end colour handset segment (below Rs 3000) account for over 60% of the market.
But there is demand for high end phones in a country with 178 million mobile phone users. And it's not just pricing that's a deterrent when it comes to upgrades.
Many of us have checked out the N series but found it to be lacking somewhere. The market for a really beautiful and user friendly smartphone is still wide open. The iPhone could be the answer but if Apple chooses to ignore us, we may well embrace the clones which are sure to follow.
Why make the same mistake, once again?