Dude, where's my iPhone 3GS?

10 Nov

Okay, last week I reported that Airtel might launch the iPhone 3GS in India on November 10. The day has come and gone without any news of the phone and I have been bombarded by e-mails, Tweets and even calls asking where is the fastest Godphone I had promised.

While I’d like to clarify that I had not ‘promised’ a launch and would like to repeat that the report had clearly stated ‘unconfirmed insider info’, but still on behalf of all our readers, I’d like to ask both Apple and Airtel – where is the iPhone 3GS?

No doubt that the iPhone 3GS is one helluva phone that has been selling in grey markets across India ever since it was launched in the US earlier this year, both Airtel and Apple should be thanking their stars that consumers are still awaiting the launch, despite how Indian carriers are ripping off their subscribers.

Check this out: The iPhone is subsidised in most countries and hence you saw the iPhone 3G retailing at $199 (approx Rs 9,200) on AT&T. Of course, there was a two-year lock-in period and the phone was locked to the network. Guess what, Indian users who bought the legit ‘for India’ iPhone 3Gs paid Rs 29,000 (Rs 31,000 at launch) and what’s worse, they had to sign-up for a minimum of Rs 499 data subscription to be able to access the Internet on the device. Yet, the device was locked to either Airtel or Vodafone. C’mon guys, give us a break.

I wonder why Apple, which has such a clout in the US and Europe, that it can dictate its terms to carriers and ask for a revenue share arising out of iPhone usage, is unable to do the same with Indian carriers. Better still, if consumers are expected to pay the full unsubsidized cost upfront, why not retail the iPhone unlocked on its own rather than depending on Indian carriers, who anyway do a shoddy job at retailing devices?

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