updated 10:50 am EDT, Mon April 11, 2011
Bharti Airtel and Aircel get iPhone 4 deals
Bharti Airtel and Aircel on Monday said they would bring the iPhone 4 to India for the first time. Both would only say the device was arriving in the "coming months." Pricing and most other details were left out of the reveal.
The country has historically been several months behind most other countries in getting iPhones and only received the iPhone 3GS in March 2010 through Bharti Airtel and Vodafone. Prices have usually been a barrier to adoption as the iPhone 3GS has cost $785 even for a 16GB version in a country where the average income is much lower than in Apple's core markets.
Apple hasn't directly explained why the iPhone costs disproportionately more in India, although shipping and distribution may be more difficult than in other regions. The market also doesn't produce the same economies of scale since smartphones are just five percent of India's market where they have been challenging basic feature phones for control in the US. Part of the issue has been 3G adoption, since it's only just deploying and has given very little incentive to buy a smartphone knowing it would be limited to 2G data at best.
Phone adoption might accelerate more quickly in the iPhone 4 era for India, since Reliance and Tata have reportedly been negotiating to get the CDMA version.