Vodafone looking at instalment scheme to sell iPhone

August 22nd, 2008 - 11:26 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 22 (IANS) Vodafone, one of the two license holders for the latest Apple iPhone that went on sale at midnight Thursday in India, is looking at easy finance schemes to help sell the product in the country, a person familiar with the development said.”Vodafone is talking to Barclays and ICICI Bank for introducing two monthly schemes for six and 12 months,” the person requesting anonymity told IANS Friday.

Bharti Airtel, the other license holder in India, declined to make any comment, but it is believed it too is talking to several banks.

The Apple iPhone 3G (third generation) was launched in Singapore and the Philippines apart from India Thursday. While it costs around Rs.8,000 in the US where Apple is headquartered, it costs around Rs.9,840 in Singapore.

In India, the iPhone is priced at Rs.31,000 for 8GB and Rs.36,100 for 16GB of memory space.

Now, to push sales, Vodafone is trying to increase iPhone sales by arranging for financing schemes for its products.

“We expect to sell anywhere between 50 to 100 phones a day,” the source said. “However it is too early to predict how the sales will shape up.”

Airtel gave a similar response.

Said Sanjay Gupta, Airtel’s chief marketing officer: “We will only be able to figure out the trend only after a week or so. The response has been overwhelming but it’s still not clear how many of the pre-bookings will actually convert to sales.”

Airtel received over 200,000 pre-bookings for the phone, the process was started about two months ago.

They grey market, which has been raking in the moolah on iphones for more than a year were despondent. Dealers at Delhi’s Gaffar Market - centre for electronics goods sale - were of the opinion that with the phone being sold by authorized dealers their share in the pie would be reduced to nil.

“We were selling the 3G version till a few days ago for anything between Rs.40,000 to Rs.55,000. There will always be people who will spend anything. The [older] 2G version sold for around Rs.24,000-25,000. Now, we will have to undercut,” said a dealer in Gaffar Market.

The iPhone is being sold in Hyderabad and Bangalore besides the four metropolitan cities and will be later introduced in 65 cities.

The phone comes locked to the service provider, which means a user cannot switch his or her operator while using an iPhone.

However, the availability of a number of software in the market for hacking the iPhone has not gone unnoticed by telecom operators.

“We are aware of the hacking software that are available and are used to unlock the iPhone, but customers who will stay with Airtel will be able to enjoy iPhone’s full benefits including the data plans,” Sanjay Kapoor, Airtel’s president (mobility) said.

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.

“More than 30,000 iPhone’s (2G) are running on the Airtel network alone,” Sanjay Kapoor said.

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