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When Will Indian Telecom Finds 'Apple' Interesting?

Bangalore: Whole world went gaga over launch of iPhone5, and India wasn’t an exception, but all the excitement here was a dud; for we won’t be holding the Phone anytime soon. And it can be seen that our telecom giants are not interested in ‘Apple’ yet.

Telecom reasons that Apple’s business propositions for operators in India are very competitive and the price sensitive market in the country just won’t open up its arms wide.

An official from a top operator in the business, who seeks anonymity, told FP that the terms for selling the iPhone which was being proposed by Apple was an unworkable model. “We don’t like their business proposition. They want us to sell a huge number (of iPhone), which doesn’t make commercial sense,” said the official. He also said that his company would offer the iPhone to Enterprise customers but not to regular customers.

Of India’s eight GSM mobile telephone operators, at least half of them do not want to venture in to iPhone. Even India’s largest mobile telephone operator Airtel doesn’t want to dig too deep – though they offer 3s, 4 and 4s iPhones – but without any data or talk-time package with it, which could make even iPhone unexciting.

Interestingly, two smaller operators in India, Aircel and Etisalat, provides its customers with special offers on the iPhone. Aircel provides the option to buy the iPhone, be it, 3GS, 4 and 4S, in special plans, like zero rentals and a money back plan. The zero rental plans gives the customer a certain amount of free talk-time, free data usage on 2G network and free SMSs. A customer buying a 4S from Aircel can also avail a money back plan bundle, where the customer pays an upfront rental amount for 2 years, which could give them a discount of up to a 40 percent on the actual rental per month.

The iPhone offers from Etisalat are a little more modest. Customers can have a package for the iPhone 4S, where the phone will be at a subsidized cost, it will come with 4GB of data and there will be no charge for a new mobile connection.

Idea Cellular’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Rajat Mukharji, also agrees that Apple’s business proposition is unworkable in India, at least for now. But, he also added that his company had an alternate model they wanted to propose. “Let’s say it’s not purely that reason. We also have our own schemes for our postpaid business and our own handsets, which we want to promote.” Another reason why Apple’s iPhone may not be on the company’s radar is that the company’s markets are mostly semi urban and rural which looks at Smartphones costing 8,000 or less, which is what they sell under their brand name.

"The reasons could be many, but then the fervor for iPhone will never cease lingering around, and wants to see a beacon though far away."

Posted on: 15 Spt 2012, 7am IST

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