Even as Apple iPhone 5 launch in India has been delayed by a week to November 2, the company on Friday started billing in Indian rupee on the App Store.
The move will benefit the vast app developer community that sells on the App Store as well as the users who download paid applications and content from the company’s online store.
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The billing so far was being done in US dollars. In comparison, Google Play Store has had INR pricing for long. Having a rupee pricing will definitely result in a big convenience for both buyers and sellers as there would be no dollar billing, making the purchase transactions easier and transparent.
Mobile apps revenue has consistently risen for both companies. Even though Google Android based smart phones have cornered more than half the total sales worldwide, Apple still retains a lion’s share in paid mobile app revenues and gets almost two-third of the total app revenue generated worldwide.
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Until now, Apple has paid $6.5 billion to developers selling their wares on the App Store and more than 35 billion apps have been downloaded since the online store opened in 2008, App Store currently offers over 7.5 lakh apps.
Meanwhile, shipment delays have resulted in the iPhone 5′s India launch date being pushed to next Friday i.e. Novermber 2 since Apple has a fetish for launching only on a Friday. When contacted, an Apple India spokesperson refused to comment.
However, a November 2 launch is certain and the stock is expected to start arriving at the master distributors Redington India and Ingram Micro within next two to three days, sources said. The two are expected to start booking pre-orders within a day or two.
Unable to open its own stores in India for direct retail due to unfavourable regulatory requirements and hampered by the high cost of distribution in the country, Apple has tweaked its retail strategy for the flagship product. Until the last time when iPhone 4S was launched, Apple had sold directly in India through its two carrier partners Airtel and Aircel.
However, the company has this time appointed for iPhone 5 two of the largest IT distributors Redington and Ingram Micro through whom the iPhone 5 stock will be routed, including the retail operations of the two existing carrier partners. It already has a relationship with the two for distribution of iPads and iPods, besides HCL Infosystems.
Since Apple sells only unlocked phones in India, other carriers and a host of other resellers too may be able to sell iPhone 5 now by directly buying in bulk from its master distributors.
Technically speaking, if Apple does not control the end pricing, some retailers might sell iPhone 5 cheaper than others, leading to differential pricing of iPhone 5 in India. The Apple spokesperson remained tight-lipped on the matter when asked about this.
More significantly, riding the vast distribution network of the two largest distributors, iPhone would become legally available practically across the country, definitely many more towns than just the large metropolitan cities.
Already, almost all Indian carriers are ready with nano SIM cards to support iPhone 5.
So far, Indian telecom carriers have steered clear from subsidising the handsets by bundling iPhone along with data plans, but without locked-in contractual plans. It means an unlocked iPhone is sold at full price after adding the taxes and import duties. This makes iPhone simply the costliest smartphone in a very price-sensitive country and leads to a thriving grey market.