That I am not an Apple fan, is because of Apple. Apple is itself responsible for not being able to turn me into an Apple aficionado (actually, they don’t seem to even want to). I don’t own any Apple device, though sometimes I wished I did. No, not even an iPod. And given Apple’s track record, I don’t see myself possessing any in the near future.

As a consumer I expect companies to treat me with respect, I believe I deserve. But Apple chooses to treat me as a third-class consumer, who irrespective of his interest, abilities, desires and purchasing power, figures right at the bottom of its priority list. Why? Because my address says India.

That India is one of the world’s fastest emerging economies and also one of the largest markets consumer electronics is hardly of any consequence to the boys at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino.

India is not a part of Apple's world
India is not a part of Apple's world

There was no surprise or shock when the Apple celeb-in-chief didn’t make any mention of of the iPad 2’s launch plans for India. India to Apple is only a market where it can hold their clearance sale, just before it is ready with the product’s next generation. It has happened with the iPod, the iPhone and now the iPad.

Apple officially began selling its blockbuster tablet device in India exactly 30 days before it announced the new one. The iPhone 4 was unveiled on June 7, 2010. It’s been eight long months and still no sight of the phone at India’s Apple Stores. We now know that it’ll probably land in India only a month before the iPhone 5 pops up on the big screen at an Apple event.

Airtel still innocently believes that iPhone 3GS is still the “fastest and most powerful iPhone yet.” I cannot blame them.

Apple has not only miffed Indian consumers with its delayed-till-it-is-obsolete releases but also with its atrocious pricing. No wonder there were no queues in India, unlike in Apple’s favoured markets, for Apple’s much hyped objects of desire.

Unlike the bargain deals at clearance sales, at Apple’s India launch (the name they give to their clearance sale here), you have to pay a premium. For wanting to own an Apple device, we poor Indians have to pay a lot more than what the much richer consumers in Apple’s favoured markets shell out.

Let Steve Jobs and his fanboys play with their fancy toys. I’m not stupid enough, neither rich enough to afford such stupidity.

Other manufacturers are fast giving Indian markets due respect and are also being rewarded for it. Even old timers such as Sony, see India as the fuel to power their growth.

Apple is already paying for its arrogance. Steve Jobs may dub the competition copycats, but it is those cats who are getting to eat the most of the cream. Android has overtaken iPhone on its home turf and, indication are that it will also run away with the tablet thunder. Irrespective of Steve Job’s boast at the Apple iPad 2 event, it was Samsung which first came up with a second edition of their tablet device.

Steve Jobs can claim to make the best devices in the planet but unless Apple gives the self-respecting consumer in an emerging economy the respect and attention he/she deserves, it can neither win our hearts and nor rule our markets.

I am not going to ask the cousin in the US to get me the latest Apple toy on her next visit home. Why should I? I don’t use gadgets so that I can flaunt them.

I don’t need to use a Mac to look cool. And let the truth be told, the freedom loving me is repulsed with Apple’s stifling practices. I admire the openness and commune of Linux, and therefore Android, and make the best out of the millions of software around for my Windows PC (by the way Mr Jobs, the Mac is also a PC. I know that hurt. Truth hurts. Marketing jargon don’t change elementary definitions) to serve the zaniest of my needs.

Apple wants to tempt me with its in-film placements. Just because the hero or heroine in the biggest hit of the year was Facebooking on the Mac, doesn’t mean that I will too. Do I sound that vain? Give me the right price and launch your products here at the right time, then I can consider giving your products a thought. Else not owning an overpriced (and not to mention overhyped) Apple gizmo isn’t going to impact my world. There are others who are more than willing to do it, at the right time and at a fraction of the cost.

Apple’s arrogance has cost it a potential customer (and millions more).

This post has also been put up as an open letter to Steve Jobs on my new blog on – Pixelated. Thanks @ruchirasingh for pestering me into starting a blog there.

  • I wasn’t aware of Apple’s strategies. So thank you for the information. I have thoroughly enjoyed this article. I wish more Indians would stick up to such short changing. I don’t really see that in the increasing upper middle class society in India. I think that is unfortunate. But thank you for this article.

    • For the upper middle class India any Apple device is a status symbol and they will like the prices to remain that way. So that they can retain their exclusivity.

  • Harish

    I agree that Apple treats India as a clearance market.
    But with respect to the pricing of the Iphone 3GS in the US and in India, you are mistaken.
    The $49 cost is for a locked Iphone with which you have to buy a contract with AT&T for 2 years. You cannot use your Iphone on any other provider, because it is locked. If you do manage to unlock it and try to use it, it causes your credit history to take a beating. So, the bottomline is, if you buy that phone for $49. you have to take up the contract with AT&T and buy the data plan which is compulsory. You really dont have a choice.

    In India, you dont have that necessity. You dont have to pay for a data plan. And I’m sure that I can buy a Iphone, unlock it and use it on my BSNL Cellone connection and no one would care about it.

    In the US, if you want an unlocked Iphone 3GS without a contract, it would cost you about 550$. So, in conversion, I believe the price is fair in India.

    • The Indian price that I quoted was also a contact price offered by Airtel. While the carriers may decide on the subsidy, I believe that a company of such as Apple will also have a say in it. The 1000% price difference may not be only because of Apple, but they do have a role to play in it.

      I am not aware of any factory unlocked iPhones being officially available in India. I’m not talking jailbreaking.

      Also prices in India should have been reasonable given that India is geographically very close to China where Apple’s products are manufactured. But Apple even releases late in China. Strange are the ways of Apple.

      I think the custom duties for computer products in India have come down considerably over the last many years and import duties alone cannot be held responsible for the big price difference.

      • Manoj

        Indian legal system do not allow carrier to offer contract. The price stated by Airtel, is just a iphone price and doesnt include any contract.. If you had cared to visit in person to one of its stores and asked rather than misinterpreting from the site.

        There is no lockin you can easily switch to vodaphone the next day with no penalties unlike in US. Also AT&T contract in US for Iphone is too costly. its data plan is for $25 per month!. You can do the math for 2 years.

        About pricing if you want to get the real figures fo check the MACBook prices.

        A MacBook comes for $1000 in US while it comes to 55,000 Rs in Inida. Considering the import duty. I myslef have purchased a MACBook for 49,000Rs with a student discount of 12% which was given to every Indian.

  • That makes the TWO of us. I don’t own a single Apple product YET. And, more importantly, don’t know if I’d like to! 🙂

  • Dear Soumyadeep…
    It was one of the most amateurish articles I have ever read.
    I can understand why you havent had any apple product in ur life.MAn you dont have tht class to understand it.Ipod has been in India for years and you shouting at Jobs for not releasing IPAD2? 😛
    Over hyped over priced? keep it to urself.

    Talking about android and all…it has become wannabish to talk cool about android to look cool.I understand you are from economics background to discuss tech details,so I will let the topic pass.

    Once you have iphone in ur hands,u have a confidence that no other phone comes anywhere near to it.

    This article had a vibe of a looser rant rather than sincere appeal.
    Sorry for my words,but yeah you sound vain !!!

  • Ajay

    Don’t identify with your reasons at all!!
    A) Market economics determines who gets what first! Case in point, many a time HTC launches its devices in Europe before US.
    B) Price diff between Iphone in US & India. Its a subsidy provided by the carrier and not apple. Tell me honestly, how many people in India do you think will stick to their contract for 2 years and not run away if iphone is subsidised as US rates?
    C) Product placement happens for a thousand things in movies. What you chose to notice/adopt is a personal matter.
    D) Comparing the sales of Android to Apple doesnt make any sense to me here. Do you own an Android as a result? BTW even Android doesnt have a app store in India, while Appple does. Go figure.

  • pankaj

    yes apple is arrogant. being one of the fastest emerging markets in the world india deseves respect.i have been using apple`s iphone its a great product as are all apple products, but what really annoyed me is their crappy policy.why should a customer pay a fortune which is a generation late when competitors a giving better choices at a cheaper price. I have jumped ship and a the proud owner of a samsung galaxy s. I WILL NEVER EVER BUY ANY APPLE PRODUCT AND WOULD ASK ALL MY FELLOW INDIANS DO THE SAME TILL APPLE GETS THEIR POLICY STRAIGHT.

  • Yep! Apple is arrogant, and I complete share your views on Apple. I don’t own any Apple Product and will never buy any after reading your article.

    Many Companies treat Indian market the way you said, but that can be a delay in distribution network… but apple is a different case.

    Thanks for Writing it! Sure would tweet this!

  • Praveen

    hi I think your points are all valid, but at some time your blog started to read like a mindless, immamature rant. Businesses will do what maximises profit, and the number one brand in world with most cash in reserve knows a thing or two about business, IMHO.
    Disclaimer: I am NOT an apple fanboy, and I dont own Ipad.

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  • Asif

    Not sure if it’s naivety, lack of ideas or plain arrogance, they seem to think that India is not a market for lifestyle products like ipod, iphone and ipad. However to be fair to them, they do launch their mac line without much delay because that has a corporate clientele, esp the ‘creative’ gang.

  • Purba

    Guess, Apple is simply showing off their ignorance!!!

  • Amrit

    Apple doesnt give priority to Indians or even the Chinese for that matter. It’s because even though “India is one of the fastest growing economies”, most people here can’t afford an Apple product (like the iPhone or iPad). Hence, the market is only for a few. When the market increases, that is to say when more people can afford an Apple product without it being a burden, we can surely expect better service. The fact that new versions of iPhone and iPad are released almost a year after they have been in the Western countries is an indicator that Apple doesnt have confidence in the Indian market.