India's iPhone craze sees introduction of telco bundling

India's love for the Apple iPhone and the new iPhone 5 launch just in time for Diwali has seen stores run out and scrambling for new stock.
Written by Nitin Puri, Contributor on

The new iPhone 5 was launched in India on November 1 and industry reports indicate only 30,000 units were shipped to coincide with Diwali shopping. Only 30,000 you might ask? Even I'm surprised, but then again, this was probably a pre-calculated move by Apple India in order to maintain the momentum after Diwali and keep the iPhone craze alive and well.

According to The Times of India, even the costlier iPhone 5s was sold out across India, with retailers scrambling for emergency stock from Apple India, as apparently only 6,000 of these units were shipped across India. Major Indian mobile operators such as Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications, along with retailers, have sought additional stock but with the Diwali weekend, re-stocking efforts have been delayed. While the iPhone 5s is out of stock, retailers such as The MobileStore, PlanetM, UniverCell, and Future Group have the iPhone 5c in stock. However, those who want the iPhone 5s are not willing to compromise for the iPhone 5c to begin with. How I love the loyal Apple fans!

One of the main reasons why both Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications quickly ran out of the more expensive iPhone 5s is because for the first time, a device is being sold and bundled with almost the same kind of contracts available overseas.

Bharti Airtel's plan is simply offering a rental of either the iPhone 5c or iPhone 5s with savings of 12,000 Indian rupees a year. Reliance Communication's plan, which is more appealing because of the unlimited voice calls and data usage, is offering base models of the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s with zero upfront, and monthly rental fees of 2,599 Indian rupees and 2,999 Indian rupees, respectively.
From my perspective, I look at this as the real Diwali gift for all Indian consumers. It's seriously about time that Indian mobile operators started bundling phones with deals, and I hope eventually the day will come when subscribers can sign up for 2 or 3 years plans and receive devices at a completely subsidized cost. That is, for free. However, considering this is the first time a device is being offered with bundled services, I would look at this as trial experiment by both Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications. Based on new subscribers, this could eventually lead to other devices being bundled with services and plans, along with other leading Indian mobile operators jumping on board.

Unfortunately, three of the main reasons why offering such schemes, directly from Indian mobile providers, have failed to become popular in India are because some subscribers either don't have established credit, or even a credit card. Furthermore, address verification has become so critical now when signing up new subscribers, and oddly, some people still can't be verified to the address provided. If the Indian mobile operators could somehow overcome these three main obstacles, I see no reason why Indian consumers can't benefit from the same plans and packages for devices as offered abroad.

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