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Kiruba Shankar: Five reasons why iPhone sales haven’t skyrocketed

About three months ago, I made a firm decision that I would definitely buy an iPhone. I’d wanted one ever since its launch a year ago and the news of iPhone 3G launch at $199 made it mouth-wateringly reachable. Apple had a 100% assured buyer in me. Why did Apple lose me then? Here’s why.

Reason #1: Promises not kept 

I distinctly remember Steve Jobs, during his keynote speech during iPhone 3G’s launch, mention that it would be priced at $199 and equivalent across all markets. When it comes from Steve Jobs, you believe him. It just rubbed me the wrong way that this promise wasn’t kept. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

Reason #2: High entry cost 

I’m certain that had the iPhone been priced at Rs 8500 ($199), the sales would have been higher. Heck, there would even have been queues outside shops and it would have become a media frenzy. It would have been a better strategy to hook people with a lower entry cost and then recoup the cost with some monthly usage costs. We Indians don’t feel the pinch if the higher cost is spread out. But a big down payment in the beginning is certainly a deal breaker.

Reason #3: The price will eventually drop 

It’s a classic Apple strategy. Launch it at a higher cost, milk the fellas who have the money and can’t wait. Catch the gadget freaks. Satisfy their ‘I-got-it-first’ egos. Once this layer is covered, cut the price down and target the next layer. Look at the historical data of iPods and the iPhone in the US and it’s easy to map it in India.

Reason #4: I’d like to retain my old number 

I’m on Aircel and I’ve had my phone number 98415 97744 for over five years now. No way am I going to let go of this number. I have too many professional and personal connections at stake. If I get an iPhone, then it means I’ll have to carry two phones with me. The iPhone will at best be a portable Internet device and music player.

Reason #5: I’m quite happy with my Nokia N82

Its WiFi is good. Great camera. Nice phone overall. It’s a little difficult to justify to myself why I should cough up an extra Rs 31,000 when I’m quite happy with what I have right now.

Bonus Reason: No 3G for iPhone 3G 

Why pay a premium for a service that is not even available in India? The 3G spectrum hasn’t even been allotted and it may be many months, or worse, years, from being launched in India.

If you notice, none of my six reasons have anything to do with the iPhone gadget. I love the phone and its features. And that’s exactly why it’s a shame that Apple lost me. It’s such a shame that they couldn’t convert such great brand goodwill and months of pent-up anticipation into solid sales.

I read today’s report that there were over 9 million new phone connections last month alone and it’s such a shame that only a few thousand iPhones have been sold so far.

For Vodafone and Airtel, it really won’t make much of a difference to their bottom-line. They’ll still get thousands of subscribers anyways. It’s entirely Apple’s loss.