The iPhone 5s and 5c launched in India on 1 November ( which was last Friday, ahead of the Diwali weekend) and according to most reports the phone has gone off to a flying start. On Tuesday, Economic Times reported that “top multi-brand cellphone and electronic retail chains such as The MobileStore, PlanetM, UniverCell and Future Group say their 5S stocks are over but that they still have 5C phones.” The report adds that trade estimates put the number of iPhones launched in India was close to 30,000 of which around 6000 were iPhone 5s devices. Reliance which is offering the phone for a year contract sold out the devices in one and a half days.
But when it comes to the iPhone, it’s not just the big guys who are facing a supply shortage and a demand overload. Local mobile stores in Delhi too have very limited supply of the iPhone 5s, which seems to be in high demand.
As far as the gold-coloured iPhone 5s is concerned, most sellers told us flat out that it’s not available anywhere in the market. One told us that the phone could be available but for a price of Rs 70,000, which is much higher than the MRP of Rs 53,900. Another based in Connaught Place confirmed that the iPhone 5s gold was only made available at the time of the launch event in Delhi in Select City Walk mall and won’t be in stores for some time.
In Lajpat Nagar, Skycomm Communication’s Ajay Tiwari told us that he had only one iPhone 5s left and that too was booked. “I have 30 bookings waitings for the iPhone 5s. The demand for the iPhone 5c is much less. We’re waiting for the stock to come in another week or so." His initial stock of iPhone 5s devices (approximately 25 to 30 was all over during the weekend.)
Another dealer, we spoke to in Lajpat Nagar ( who did not wish to be named) said that due to the Diwali weekend, followed by Valmikhi Jayanti holiday meant that they were short on stock. He said he was expecting some more phones in the next couple of hours, although he didn’t specify how many.
Given the demand, the price is also fluctuating. Another dealer in Lajpat said he had only two iPhone 5s devices left and was willing to sell them at Rs 57,000 for the 16 GB version. “I sold ten iPhone 5s devices one after the other in a straight line when it was launched,” he said.
But even those who have stock are confirming that the gold iPhone 5s is not available. Ashish Madan who runs a Mobile Zone shop in Green Park told us, “Customers are still paying as high as 56,000 to 70,000 for the iPhone 5s. I believe they shouldn’t do so as the stock will definitely come soon. As far as the gold iPhone is concerned, it’s not available anywhere.”
His own store had the highest number of iPhone 5s’ Firstpost saw kept outside for customers: a grand total of eight devices. In fact, even as I walked in, he just sold an iPhone 5s to a customer. “Right now this is a new Apple device, so there’s a lot of interest in it. Apple fans want to upgrade,” he told us. In South Extension market, too it was hard to find a store that had the iPhone 5s in stock. We got the same response as far as stock was concerned: 8 to 10 days for most smaller shops.
When it comes to the smaller shops, while a lot of them had advertised about the launch of the iPhone 5s in Delhi, not everyone seems to have got the stock. Blame the Diwali weekend or the bigger retailers, but supply is low indeed in most stores. In contrast to the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 5c which is priced at a ‘lower’ Rs 41,900 doesn’t seem to have generated so much attention. “The fact is customers think, we’ll just add another 10,000 and buy the 5s with the premium build,” said Ajay.
There’s no doubt that the iPhone 5s generated enough interest in the Indian consumer given the fact that Indian consumers lined up outside stores to grab the phone. It should be noted that Apple’s iPhone 5s isn’t the only premium phone to be launched in India recently with a high price tag. The Rs 45,000 and above category has been growing as far as the best smartphones are concerned. The Note III launched at Rs 50,000 as did the Nokia Lumia 1020 with a 41 megapixel camera. Even Sony’s Xperia Z1 and LG’s G2 were priced above Rs 40,000.
However given the kind of response that the iPhone 5s has managed to generate despite a price tag of Rs 53,900, shows that when it comes to the premium brand of smartphones, urban users want to shell out for the best, which is for now Apple.