Apple products have had mixed success in India in the past. Apart from design studios and a few elite enthusiasts using the Mac workstations, iPods, iPhones and MacBooks were out of the reach of many people in the earlier half of the past decade. That soon changed and iPods became a common sight and so did iPhones. I, for one, never really craved for an iPod.
India and Apple’s creations
The past year saw the launch of Apple’s new iPad tablets. Now, I get it that tablets are a new phenomenon and people didn’t really know what to expect. As a technology person, I myself wasn’t sure how people would react to it. I wasn’t sure if they were going to be the future, and if would the replace laptops and gaming consoles. At first, iPads attracted a lot of criticism.. There were talks of it being too heavy and too expensive. In India, no one really cared for tablets when the iPad first arrived. It’s almost as if Apple ignored the Indian market. It's not the first time. Most of the Apple products end up late.
Why the sudden attraction
Suddenly, iPad 2 Craze Strikes India
The iPad 2 is just out and I’ll be honest, I want one like every other geeky lunatic out there. It’s like the iPad, but since it’s not a lot more expensive than the old iPad and is better in some ways, I’d like one. Turns out, there are hundreds and thousands like me who want one too. It’s so much in demand that it’s not available very easily. I’ve called the Cromas, Ezones and Reliance Digitals and no one seems to have any. They’re sold out and the only ones we can get are 20 days away. Of course, there are those who are willing to promise desperate users like myself an iPad for Rs. 500 or a Rs. 1,000 more. It's not like people are buying the cheapest possible models. They're buying the 32GB versions and 64GB versions with 3G. They're even spending on the accessories. This is not typical of our market. Many are saying that it’s been a runaway success and no one, not even Apple expected this kind of response.
But where did all of this sudden iPad 2 craze come from? People are willing to spend this much for a phone, which they’ll use thoroughly extracting every bit of value they can from it, but a tablet has always seemed far-fetched. Apple I think has managed to pull it off. Apple is no longer considered the brand, that you pay much more for – it’s now a good value-for-money kind of brand, at least for some of its products. People have also seemed to have opened up to the idea of shopping for apps on mobile devices now. The thought of spending Rs. 100 on an app every now and then doesn’t scare them either.
Would you realistically go out and spend close to Rs. 35,000 on a tablet made by a brand other than Apple? I doubt it. For a brand that doesn’t spend as much on marketing, as some of the other consumer electronics brands, Apple is doing extremely well.
Its not just the iPad 2. I think Apple played this smartly. The Apple iPad would have sold well in India, but its success might have necessarily been as impressive as the iPad2. Having tried and tested the strategy with the old iPad, and having seen it work in other countries, this was a sure shot path to success. The iPad 2 customer too saw that the iPad did well and so far, there was no clear competition to it.
My understanding is that people have always wanted Apple products, no matter how much they say that they are overpriced pieces of hardware. The iPad is a tablet, and any decent tablet today is going to cost you no less than Rs. 25,000. If you’re going to be spending that much on one, why would you settle on a slightly less fancy, slightly less solidly built or on an extremely optimised and refined OS. Given the option, almost every person would choose the iPad over any other tablet.