iPhone 3G in India: A Great Touch Gets a Bad Press

29 Aug

We at Cellpassion know that there is nothing known as the perfect cellphone. Every device, notwithstanding the best efforts of its manufacturer, has its share of quirks and weaknesses. Even then, we must confess to having been stunned at the storm of media outrage surrounding the iPhone in one of the world’s largest mobile markets, India.

The past few days have seen just about every accusation being levelled at the device which many on the tech world consider to be the ubergizmo — the shortcomings of its camera (no zoom, no video), its limited Bluetooth functionality, the uselessness of its 3G support as 3G does not exist in the country (a charge that be thrown at just about every high-end device in the country), its security, its non-removable battery, and of course, its price. Some publications and TV channels have gone to the extent of writing off the iPhone as a “expensive failure,” notwithstanding its running up sales of almost a million units a week worldwide.

While there’s no wrong with objective and informed criticism, there are whispers that the Indian media’s potshots at the iPhone have been primed by a few major cellphone manufacturers. Evidently, one of them has gone to the extent of circulating a mail in the media detailing the shortcomings of the iPhone. Foul play, say you? Well, it worked. Because the next few days saw the very points that had been mentioned in the mail being highlighted in a few newspapers, websites and TV shows. Of course, it could all be a coincidence. Mind you, if it is, we are looking out of the window for flying pigs! Similarly, a PR agency even invited the media to talk to a security expert about the security shortcomings of the “i-Phone” (sic) in an email titled “I-phone (sic again): The apple of a hacker’s eye?” To make matters worse, some media persons have been heard muttering about not getting “free samples” (the rumbling sound is us rolling our eyes) and have taken revenge by venting their spleens on the device that was once the object of their desire. Hell hath no fury like a scorned journo, it would seem!

All of which would have been fine, if the criticism had been part of a logical discussion about the device. Alas, we have not seen too many traces of that. Objectivity has at times been shown the door with the very people who criticised HTC for releasing a non-3G version of the Touch Diamond in India, now shouting foul at Apple for releasing a 3G device in a nation that does not have that facility. Even the criticism about its price can be termed unfair — there is no lock-in period for Indian users, who just have to make a one-time payment to get their hands on the device and can even use it on a prepaid connection, unlike in most other nations, where one has to keep shelling out an amount for anything upto two years. Worst of all, the criticism would seem to indicate that more than twelve million people are idiots — that is the number of iPhone users in the world.

The sufferer in all this lopsided brouhaha has been the Indian cellphone user, who has been shown only the dark side of what is a very powerful device indeed. A blind eye has also been turned to the many plus points of the iPhone 3G — its amazing browsing prowess, its improved mail support and above all, its dazzling interface, which remains unmatched for smoothness and speed. It’s a bit like someone saying that Usain Bolt is a poor sprinter because he slowed down and celebrated before the finish in 100 metres at Beijing (yeah, never mind that he set a world record).

Yep, no phone is perfect, and the iPhone ain’t an exception to this universal truth. But then to err is human and to forgive divine. Some members of the media clearly have no aspirations to divinity.

Well, we certainly do.

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