Guest Post by Arpit Verma.
We all associate launch of new iPhones with a crowd of people standing outside Apple Stores for hours on end, just so that they can be among the first ones to touch the latest and greatest from Apple.
This sight is very common in parts of United States and Europe, right from the days of the original iPhone way back in 2007. India was immune to the ‘stand in the queue’ syndrome till the iPhone 5s, which coincides with the period when Apple really put India among its priority market, one that it wants to expand its presence into. Post the launch of iPhone 5s we have seen several malls, retail shops and Apple retail outlets issue tickets and pre-bookings which allow the Apple faithful to queue up at 12 midnight, for the sale to begin.
While the charm of being one of the very first to own a newly launched iPhone remains unscathed, is it really the smartest thing to do? No, we are not alluding to how safe or unsafe Indian cities are at night or if the retailers fulfil their promises of delivering the product you booked or not, but on whether it is worth it picking the iPhone on the very first day itself?
The thought stems from the observation that several Indians expressed their grievance at heavy discounted offering from major e-com players, barely days after they paid the full premium when picking up the newly launched iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus. To set the background clearly, Apple announced the new iPhones in India at a premium, like only they can. The 16GB variant of the iPhone 6s did launch at the rumoured price of Rs 62,000 while the 16GB version of the iPhone 6s Plus was priced at Rs 72,000. The price made the new iPhones easily the most expensive phones in the current Indian market, yet thanks to a strong brand brand affinity and loyalty that Apple enjoys, several thousands of loyalists stood in hour long queues waiting for the new phones. Some had pre-booked them by paying a token amount, while the others just waited patiently hoping there would be enough stock left for them to take away some rose-gold awesomeness home. The turnout was enough for Tim Cook to take it to his personal Twitter handle and thank the Apple lovers in India for their unconditional support. Everything was good in the world until barely two days after the launch, when the e-com players in the country started flexing their funded muscles.
Within two days, the likes of Paytm had started offering the newest iPhone with a cashback of Rs 6,000, effectively dropping the price of the 16GB iPhone 6s to Rs 56,000. This is bit of a common practice in India but one brand that was well known for its price consistency was Apple. You could buy an iPhone today, tomorrow or three months down the line, your phone would cost still the same. This is obviously, in the pre-e-com era, when the iPhone 4 or 4s were around. This not only ensured that the iPhone was always a premium commodity to own but also that if you wanted to sell the phone after a few months of usage, you got a good value for the phone because the price had not gone tumbling down.
What is the scenario, almost a month post the launch of the iPhones? According to the data that we have collected at Pricebaba, the iPhone 6s (16GB) has fallen by over Rs 11,000 while the 16GB version of the iPhone 6s Plus is already down by about Rs 6,000. The drop on the higher memory variants is similar, with the 64 GB versions of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus only down by Rs 7,500 and Rs 6,000 respectively. For the 128GB version, the drop on the 6s is about Rs 8,000 while that on the 6s Plus is around the Rs 6,500 mark.
You would assume that picking up a higher memory variant device on the first day will make you a little immune to these price drops, but there definitely seems to be a consistent behaviour in the drop. Other than the iPhone 6s 16 GB, which has fallen off drastically because it is the most popular iPhone 6s that the price-sensitive Indian customers are most likely to buy, the rest of the lineup seems to have fallen by the same margin. The charm of picking the phone on the first day will continue to live in the most die-hards, but for all of those who want value for money, perhaps next year, they will not be in the line to pick the phone. It is a result of Apple’s own doing, where it could not take a strong enough action against some of the e-com players who have been offering the devices at heavy discounts. As a result, the charm of going to an Apple Store, experiencing the phone first hand and admiring the gorgeous architecture will soon evaporate, if it is not already, in the wake of huge discounts and money that an average Joe can save by shopping from the comfort of his home.
In defence of anyone who does pick the phone from the e-com stores, why should he not save some dough and pick the device? He is getting the same manufacturer warranty that he would, if he picked it up from the Apple Store. Most of the portals have a return policy, where if you did not like the product, you could exchange it off. In addition, the online players have pretty much all the models available that you could dream of, that sometimes the retail stores may not have. Yes, he may have to wait for perhaps a day longer, but the Indian mentality of save money at any cost would always steer him towards buying the phones when the prices inevitably fall rather than live the charm and buy it on the very day of the launch when the prices are anyway at their peak.
Today it may seem a moot point as to where and when the users buy their phone as long as they do buy and the cash flows remain positive in the favour of Apple, but what eventually Apple is losing out on is that Apple experience, that charm and that excitement that made an individual a fan of their products for life. For the sake of Apple, and for the sake of several million die hard Apple fans, we hope, Apple realises this and takes a strong stand, but until then, dear consumers, make most of these discounts.
Arpit is an Aerospace Engineer by education and when he is not ogling over a metallic bird or the perfect pass played in the last football game, he plays his part in the marketing and sales team at Pricebaba. A constant juggler of gadgets, his pockets are a home to a Nexus 5X and an iPhone 6 Plus currently, though that is likely to change by the time you have finished reading the article.