KOLKATA: Apple's aggressive sales strategy in India may have backfired to some extent as bookings for the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus have fallen short of expectations, said some of the company's trade partners. Against a bold target of tripling pre-bookings for the devices, which will be available in India on October 16, these have risen by just 10-15% compared with last year for the previous models, the partners said. They said buyers expect lower prices online once the phone becomes widely availabl
Adding to buyers' hesitation on pre-bookings is price. The entry model costs Rs 8,500-9,500 more than last year's launch price, said the executives cited above. "Almost a couple of thousand potential customers who we had reached out for pre-bookings said they would be in a wait-and-watch mode since they feel prices online would crash two-three weeks after the launch just ahead of Diwali (in November)," said the chief executive officer of a leading consumer electronics chain who didn't want to be named. He pointed out that even during the current online festive sales, the biggest discounts were on (older) Apple products among mainstream brands. Leading cellphone and consumer electronics retail chains said they were forced to reach out to customers for pre-bookings, unlike the previous year when demand outstripped supply. The India experience thus far runs counter to the global scenario — Apple recently reported record sales for the latest iPhones with more than 13 million units sold three days after the initial launch. An executive at a leading ecommerce company said iPhone pre-bookings have been muted, largely because of high prices. READ ALSO: Here's why iPhone 6S may be in short supply Offering price protection Retail chains such as Big C and Lot Mobile in the south have even offered 'one-month price protection' to drum up bookings. This means that, in the event of prices dropping in a month, bookers will be paid the difference. Others have offered instant buyback at 50% of the price for older iPhone models. These initiatives don't seem to have helped much though. "We reached out to 10,000 customers but have managed to pre-book just 1,300 models amounting to Rs 6 crore, which is a slight jump over last year. Expectation of online discount has dampened business," said Lot Mobiles Executive Director K Krishna Pawan. Latest Comment finally some sense prevailsHemraj Chaudhari Bengaluru-based retailer Sangeetha Mobile's Managing Director Subhash Chandra said pre-bookings of the latest iPhones were below expectations. "However, consumers may want to see the models once they are launched and then may buy," he said. Apple will launch the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus at midnight on October 16 in India. The company has priced the 6S at Rs 62,000 (16GB),Rs 72,000 (64GB) and Rs 82,000 (128GB) while the larger-screen 6S Plus will cost Rs 72,000 (16GB), Rs 82,000 (64GB) and Rs 92,000 (128GB). Pre-bookings started at the beginning of the month. Telecom operators such as Airtel and Vodafone have partnered Apple this year to offer pre-booking plans. Apple hadn't responded to emailed queries at press time. Counterpoint Technology Market Research senior analyst Tarun Pathak said the high price of the latest iPhones has no doubt deterred consumers, but many are also waiting, since Diwali is still a month away, holding out the prospect of better deals. "A significant number of consumers can also buy last year's iPhone models, which are now expected to get a price cut, and will be much lower than the current models," Pathak said. "However, we expect a good October-December quarter for Apple, since last year only 50% of Apple owners in India had bought the last iPhone and hence others would certainly upgrade to one of the models this year." According to Counterpoint, Apple sold 1.7 million iPhones in India between October 2014 and September 2015, the company's financial year, compared with 1.1 million units in the year-earlier period.