Home > Uncategorized > Terrible reporting in India, even worse marketing

Terrible reporting in India, even worse marketing

In this entire stupidly written article about why the iPhone is doing badly in India (apparently due to price and/or misaligned expectations. PsHAW!) these are the only relevant sentences:

Apple’s other big problem in India is distribution. It sold its handsets
exclusively through carriers Airtel and Vodafone

When my iPod stopped working (as it so often does) in Mumbai, I had to look up the Apple website, and through a complicated and utterly user-unfriendly series of menus, find an Apple dealer. The entire site seemed to be geared to put off people looking for service with stupid downloads and FAQs. Then, once I identified four dealers in all of Mumbai (FOUR?? Even Skoda, the luxury car has more dealers!), I had to pick the two closest ones and call them for a couple of days before I could get an appointment with one. This in India, where even doctor visits don’t require appointments. And because these dealers, like the electricity department, only worked 10AM – 4PM, I had to skip lunch during a working day and travel for 45 minutes (one way) to reach the dealer.
Of course, I was impressed that once the guy at the dealership figured it was a problem with the iPod he promised he would replace it with a new one, not just repair it. Considering my iPod had been battered for almost a year by then, I was thrilled. But I had to go back again three days later, skip lunch, jolt along in a stinky expensive cab for 45 minutes each way to pick the new iPod up, by which time I was sure all the bumping along had made it useless again (hadn’t, thankfully).

Compare this to when my Nokia 6600 hung on me, all I had to do was open the back, take the battery out, and place the battery back. Voila! About 300 times a day towards the end of its life, but still – voila. If it hadn’t worked then, I’d’ve walked next door or a few feet away to the nearest cellphone dealer (of which there are thousands in Mumbai, a couple on every street), and asked him/her to tinker with it till it worked, and (s)he would’ve fixed it on the spot, and I’d’ve paid him/her a small amount – cash.

It’s so stupid that Apple expects me to visit an Airtel or Vodafone office to get an instrument. It’s like asking someone in the US to go to the nearest comcast office to buy a large screen TV, instead of dropping into the nearest Best Buy. Or, to stretch the analogy a bit, go to a gas station to buy a car.

Moreover, in India at least, most people don’t even need to go visit Airtel/Vodafone offices to get a connection (or, as they call it in the US, a plan/contract). You only go there when you have a serious question or complaint. Most transactions happen elsewhere – e.g. pre-paid cards are bought at neighbourhood kirana stores, and post-paid connections are either bought online, on the phone, via a door-to-door salesperson, or via your Airtel/Vodafone corporate sales contact at work.

The Apple management team has got to be full of know-it-all expats :-). If MNCs are still being this stupid in India, I can see enormous value in going back to desh and making money off them. Better still, to make money off a terrible media made up of people who’re journalists only because they couldn’t become engineers–> software developers or commerce grads–> bankers.

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