updated 02:20 am EDT, Wed May 14, 2008
"Largest" iPhone rollout
Apple's iPhone is set to make a big splash in India. A new report says that the rollout of the iPhone in India is set to be the largest, anywhere in the world -- through both Vodafone (previously announced) and Airtel mobile carriers. Citing industry sources, Riyaz.net says that Apple's iPhones will be sold through about 250,000 Vodafone and Airtel retail outlets including franchisee-owned shops. "This rollout would be mammoth when compared to iPhones being available only in about 7,000 AT&T outlets in the US apart from the Apple Stores," the report noted. With the launch of the new 3G iPhone expected next month (likely at WWDC), Apple is already expanding the number of countries in which the iPhone will be available, including Australia (in an non-exclusive arrangement) as well as Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Asia, Egypt, New Zealand, and South Africa via a pre-announced Vodaphone deal.
The 3G iPhone also will be available in Singapore and other Asian countries and is expected hit Europe before August.
While Apple is expected to sell the iPhone in India through its own outlets, the report says that Apple has a limited number of retail storefronts, but that both Vodaphone and Airtel are expected to offer the device in "all metros and leading tier II towns." Neither Airtel and Vodafone offered any details on the rollout, however.
“Most phone makers want their products in as many stores as possible and Apple is changing its strategy from exclusivity to wider availability,” one analyst said anonymously.
The iPhone, priced at 23,000 Rs (about $545), will be targeted at ‘high-end’ mobile phone users whose monthly bills exceed of 1,000 Rs (about $23), the report said.
The report also indicates that agreements with franchises would also be worked out, enabling non-carrier branded stories to sell the popular device. Only official company AT&T stores, not franchises, sell the phone in the US.
Bharti, Airtel's parent is also working plans to bundle iPhones along with its broadband services, which it sells to about 800,000 customers.