Mumbai: Apple Inc has tied up with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone to bring the iPhone this year to India to compete with high-end handsets such as the HTC Touch, Nokia's N series and BlackBerry.
The selection of two operators is in marked departure from Apple's single-operator strategy of granting exclusivity for an entire country. In the US the iPhone is available exclusively on AT&T, in the UK it is through O2, through orange in France andT-Mobile in Germany.
The selection of Airtel is a result of the iPhone maker having signed up with SingTel, which owns a 30-per cent stake in Bharti to launch the product in Singapore
The American firm is tapping the lucrative Asian markets through tie ups and partnerships with local mobile operators, which will help it achieve its target to sell 10 million units by the end of 2008.
iPhones, which have already been available in the Indian grey market for a year now will be legally sold with the help of the local GSM operators, the company stated. The mobile phone is expected to be in the range of RsRs25,000 to Rs28,000, though Bharti did not disclose the official price. (See: iPhone to be marketed in India ... legally)
In order to establish a strong base in India, it was imperative for Apple to join hands with the two biggest GSM operators Airtel and Vodafone in the world's fastest-growing telecom market, the company said.
Airtel and Vodafone have a combined subscriber base of over 110 million, which is more than the population of Europe's most-populated country.
Termed as the ideal multimedia smartphone for the new generation, the touch-screen handset with music, videos and internet capabilities has been a huge success worldwide. Apple has sold about 7.5-million iPhones since its launch in June 2007.
The smartphone, which is already available in the Indian grey market for a year now will be legally sold with the help of the local GSM operators
As per the company financials on 31 March 2008, Apple has sold 1.7 million iPhone devices, which includes mobile phones, iPod media players and web surfing devices.