Bharti Airtel to launch iPhone on Aug 22

August 6th, 2008 - 7:06 pm ICT by IANS  

By Himank Sharma
New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) Almost two months after Apple chief executive Steve Jobs’ keynote address featured the Bharti logo prominently alongside the likes of AT&T and O2 as mobile operators who will sell the iPhone 3G worldwide, Bharti Wednesday formally announced Aug 22 would be the launch date. Bharti in its statement did not reveal the price at which the phone will retail in the country. The iPhone is sold between $199-$299 (Rs.7,960-Rs.11,960) in the US.

The phone, which won Time magazine’s coveted ‘invention of the year 2007′ honour, and marked the Cupertino-based computer giant’s foray into the mobile phone arena, debuted in June last year.

Although Apple had then stated that India would get the phone by November 2007, it wasn’t until this May that Bharti made public the upcoming launch of the phone.

According to a recent survey, more than 150,000 iPhones (2G) are already being used in the country, which have either been imported by enthusiasts or bought in the grey market.

India is the third largest unofficial market for iPhone after Russia and China.

Ironically, China where the phone is manufactured, still does not feature in Apple’s roadmap for retailing the iPhone.

Wednesday’s announcement comes after rumours of Vodafone - the rival telecom company - launching its own iPhone on Aug 13.

Although Bharti did not state the price, Jobs’ statement in June said the “iPhone 3G will retail all over the world for $199 or less”.

His claim led to a flurry of speculations that the breakthrough device which features a 3.5 inch touch screen display might sell for as low as Rs.8,500; the original phone which retailed in the US market between $399 and $599 has been selling in India for around Rs.25,000.

However, the $199 price tag in the US and other countries comes attached with a fixed two-year contract with the service provider. In the US, the minimum monthly bill for an iPhone with the AT&T contract is $60.

Although a norm in the US, fixed contract plans have not picked up well in India.

When Reliance Infocomm launched its mobile services in 2003, it had initiated similar contractual services. The company later discontinued the practice.

“Customers will be able to purchase iPhone 3G at Airtel Relationship Centres, and will have the iPhone 2.0 software,” the Bharti statement said.

The 2.0 software was launched alongside the 3G and had major additions like Microsoft exchange mail server, Cisco secure VPN access, apart from the original 1.0 OS X software features.

Apple, a few days back released the 2.01 firmware update to fix minor problems and bugs in the 2.0.

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