Sunday, January 30, 2011

iPad Launch in India: High on novelty factor, Low on sales

After recently reporting on the traction the Samsung Galaxy Tab has got in India, I was looking forward to the channel check on the reception that the Apple iPad has got in India. I visited multiple stores in Bangalore over this weekend (29/30-Jan) to get a sense of the interest that the iPad has generated in Bangalore. I visited the Apple iStores along with the multi-brand electronic retail chains carrying not only the iPad but also the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Dell Streak. Even though iPad was launched on 28-Jan-11 (just a few days back at the time of the reporting) in India the findings were interesting.

Some observations from the checks at the Apple iStore were:

  1. The Apple iStores at any given time had about 5 people waiting to try out the iPad. However, these observations have been made over the weekend and may indicate an higher level of interest.
  2. While talking to the salesperson at the Apple store it was clear that most of the customers trying out the iPad were at best the curious onlookers trying out the much hyped iPad with their own fingers. 
  3. The salespeople had hardly seen a serious customer interested in buying the iPad. 
  4. I happened to strike a conversation with many customers trying out the iPad. The response I got from all of them them was that they had come to see the iPad and not buy it. 
  5. I also happened to talk to a very few potential  buyers of the iPad. They had come to see the product and try it out. If they liked what they say the would ask someone to get it for them from the US.
  6. The serious potential buyers thought that only a crazy person would buy the iPad in India. They felt with the iPad2 coming in a few months only the stupid and ill-informed would buy the iPad in India. Even if one wanted to buy the current iPad, it would be better to get it from the US as it would turn out to be significantly cheaper. 
On the whole the visits from the Apple iStores indicated that the future for the iPad does not look very bright in India. While none of the salespersons mentioned sales explicitly, it was clear that the sales figures for the iPad over the weekend at the Apple stores were close to zero.

Moving on to my observations on the store checks at the multi-brand electronic retail chains
  1. Things looked up for the iPad at the multi-brand stores. The salespeople at various stores were consistently recommending the iPad over the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Something seems to be working in favor of Apple while Samsung needs to worry about this. None of the salespeople bothered to mention the Dell Streak. 
  2. The most commonly recommend configuration at the multi-brand electronic retail chains was the 32 GB WiFi + 3G
  3. The reasons provided by the salesperson in recommending the iPad over the Galaxy Tab were the looks; screen size and the display quality, while agreeing to the fact that one could get the 3G feature at much lower cost with the Samsung Galaxy Tab. 
  4. The consumer response at the multi-brand retail chains was no different from the response one got from the customers at the Apple iStores. 
In terms of sales at the multi-brand electronic retail chains the message from the salespersons was that its to early to talk about sales. As per them the iPad has just come out, the consumers need to first check out the product and then only we can talk about some sales. My assessment of the situation is that sales are close to zero. 

Though these are early days for the iPad, one doest foresee great volumes for the iPad specifically and tablets in general in India unless
  1. India is not seen as dumping ground for legacy products (Apple) with India launches aligned with the global launch
  2. Pricing needs to be worked out. Seems no one is thinking about price points. Even those who are ready to buy at the available price points, could so easily get the latest product from the US at cost cheaper than India. 

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