The iPhone 5, unveiled by Apple CEO Tim Cook will officially make it to Indian stores months after its US release date. But if you are an Apple fan willing to pay double the price for it, the phone could be bought in India as early as Saturday — a day after its official 21 September release in the US!
The grey market of course!
The first Apple retail store was brought to India by Mukesh Ambani's Reliance group only in 2007. But long before that grey markets such as Palika Bazaar in New Delhi, Fancy Market in Kolkata, Heera Panna in Mumbai and Burma Bazaar in Chennai were already selling all the products on the Apple catalogue. And the iPhone 5 is expected to retail at a premium in all these markets, promising thriving business for them in weeks to come.
New Delhi's Ghaffar Market, Karol Bagh, Palika Bazaar and Nehru Place top the grey market for Apple fans while Mumbai's Heera Panna, Alpha and the famous Chor Bazaar are where smuggled iPhones are often found.
If the time gap between the official release of the device in the US and India is more than a month, many buyers are willing to pay a massive premium - sometimes even at double the price - just to get the product within 24 hours of its launch.
“The premium charge would depend on a lot many factors, like when the product would be officially launched in India; the official price and hype in the market. But from our previous experience, we have seen people willing to pay even double the official price to get the product within a week of its US launch,” a vendor from Karol Bagh told the Business Standard.
Even though Apple is cutting the time it takes to unveil its gadgets in India to prevent sales in the grey market, the iPhone 4S still only hit the Indian market a full month after the US.
And once the product does make it to Indian shores, some people still think it makes more sense to go the grey market route than the official route.
First, the grey markets drop their prices as soon as the product becomes 'officially' available, and Apple prices the product at least 20 percent more than what it is in the US.
Also here telecom providers have only recently started offering discounts on handsets in return for a monthly contract. Those Indians looking for the cheaper deal either have to pick it up abroad and get it unlocked in India, or buy it in the grey market at a cheaper price because they avoid import duties and local taxes.
These are all things that Apple may seriously want to look at.