Why Apple iPad should skip India


India is not a market for evolutionary products like iPad. It is a market for revolutionary products. iPod was a revolutionary product but it clicked in India only after it went through iterations. By the time iPod reached India many fakes were in business. Just like Xerox meant photocopy, iPod now means a music player. It doesn’t matter if it is from Apple.

Apple’s  iPhone went through the same fate. Though there were no iPhone fakes, not many iPhones were sold. That strategy was immediately dubbed as a skimming strategy from Apple. It was testing the markets. Well, I believed it the first time. It’s subsequent releases of 3G and 3G S have seen the same response. It no longer is a skimming strategy but it was targeting just the cream.

And I don’t like the fact that Apple always gives India a step-motherly treatment. But this time it is in the best interest of Apple to skip India. At least the first revision of iPad. If Apple doesn’t skip, India should skip iPad.

India is just getting into the habit of book reading. Overall literacy rates are low but people who know how to read, hardly read. If a book sells 5000 copies then it’s a instant best seller. And Indians who read, they read it to improve their English or to get motivated. Robin Sharma is one of the popular authors in India. Chetan Bhagat is the other author who is getting Indians to read. I almost never see anyone carrying a book in a bus. But when I do, it is either 2 States or 5 point someone – both written by Mr. Bhagat.

iPad as a device to get people to read doesn’t work here. It costs $499 which translates to 23000 Indian rupees for the plain vanilla version. Suddenly Amazon Kindle is much cheaper with a 17000 rupee price tag. If you think the touch would get people to use iPad then you are mistaken. Touch or no touch it has to pack a punch and be cost-effective – all at the same time

It doesn’t matter if you pack Pamela Anderson into the iPad. It always boils down to price in India. And we need a bargain on it too. India likes cheap, functional, good looking products. One of the biggest reason for the success of IMEI numberless Chinese mobiles.

In addition to Amazon Kindle, we now have India’s own e-book reader. Infibeam’s Pi. It  is not revolutionary product.  But it’s functional and not expensive.  It costs 9999 rupees. Priced just the way Indians like it – also known as the Bata rate. The only limitation of Pi is the number of books available on it. Maybe Pi should run Kindle software. Kindle software already runs on iPhones. I don’t see a reason why it shouldn’t run on Pi. That is a win-win for Pi and Amazon.

But iPad is not an eBook reader

Right on. It is not an ebook reader. Then what is it? Is it a netbook? Or is it a phone? Well, not exactly. It is a cross between a netbook and a Smartphone almost making netbooks redundant. Until it is established that there is a market for a new gadget to fill the gap between a Smartphone and the netbook, we can wait. By that time, it would be time for a new version if iPad.

Traditional thinking is this – If you have a killer app or product then it will be sold. In India, it works the other way. If it is sold in India, then you have a killer app or a product.

The question then is, how many iPads can you sell in India?