updated 03:35 pm EDT, Sat November 2, 2013
Reliance now carrying iPhone 5s and 5c on contract
For the first time ever, iPhone fans in India will be able to buy Apple's phones in a subsidized manner. Reliance Communications, India's third-largest telecom, is now offering the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c on contract, according to The Wall Street Journal. The carrier's decision to offer a contract option signals a willingness to try again in an arena that has proved difficult to maintain in India.
Reliance previously partnered with LG, Samsung, and Nokia to make handsets available on contract for as low as five percent of their retail value. Such offers drew a million new subscribers within 10 days of the older program's launch, but those customers quickly dropped Reliance as a provider, leading to considerable losses for the carrier.
Now, Reliance is limiting contract eligibility to customers with credit cards. The carrier will rely on the credit card companies to bill customers, ensuring that Reliance gets paid.
The iPhoen 5s will be available for 2,999 rupees ($48.50) per month, while the iPhone 5c will cost 2,599 ($42.10) per month. For those prices, customers get unlimited phone calls and data with no additional costs.
The move may help Apple grow its foothold in the world's second-most populous nation. At the moment, makers of much cheaper devices have a lock on India, and the fact that Apple's devices are typically sold through resellers at their full price has held back much progress for the iPhone maker in that nation.
India is the second-largest wireless market in the world, but smartphones are not growing in popularity there as fast as in China and the United States. Where smartphones are popular in India, they are typically lower-cost handsets. Apple's chief rival Samsung holds a 36 percent share of the Indian mobile market, thanks to its low-cost feature phone and smartphone offerings. Apple, meanwhile, holds only two percent.