The freshly announced pricing of iPhone 5s has underscored some very important points about the India smartphone market and certainly about Apple’s India play.
First, with an entry price unambiguously above Rs 50,000 announced for its latest flagship iPhone 5s, Apple has dared to tread where others have feared to. With Rs 53,500 for a 16GB version and Rs 71,500 for a 64GB version, Apple is clearly seeking to define a new price segment which could belong all to itself, mostly.
It is worth noting that the pricing hasn’t really come under attack on various mainstream as well as social media forums. This is quite significant, considering that offerings from other vendors have faced thumbs-down mandates when priced in the Rs 45,000 to Rs 50,000 range.
Not just BlackBerry and Nokia but even market leader Samsung has faced challenges when attempting to command a premium anywhere close to the Rs 50,000 mark. In fact, that Samsung’s flagship Galaxy series has come to face a certain amount of market-share challenge from home-grown vendor Micromax’s Canvas series is an industry-acknowledged fact.
When an aspirational but price-conscious buyer tends to compare an globally leading smartphone maker’s flagship device with that of a local vendor’s offering, on parameters such as processor type and speed, memory, camera lens and megapixels, display, looks, finish and last but not the least, the operating system, then it puts much pressure on the global leader.
In the potential buyers’ minds, the decision making then becomes mostly a factor of the premium they are willing to consider for a brand’s perceived value. However, even that has come under increased pressure, with the home-grown vendors setting aside large budgets on ATL branding and advertising activities.
To the advantage of users but to the discomfort of many a global smartphone leaders, Android has been a great equalizer.

Apple, on the other hand, by virtue of keeping all its intellectual properties wall-gardened and of course, by keeping those cutting-edge, has been able to create differentiated value for its already premium smartphones. 

(First published in Light Reading India; header changed.)

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