Airtel and Aircel have finally announced the launch of Apple iPhone 4 in India. The Indian launch comes almost after 11 months of the international launch. It is not clear when the next iPhone is coming so it is hard to say how bad the timing of this launch is.
In any case, the launch probably showcases some maturity in the Indian mobile market. Both airtel and Aircel are offering something the market calls reverse subsidy on the iPhone 4.
In simple terms… unlike the US market where you get to buy the phone at a heavily discounted price with a two year long contract… here we have something similar but with a totally different twist.
You would be paying the full pricing of the phone which ranges between Rs. 35000 and Rs. 40000. The phone would be unlocked. And you can get discounts on your mobile bills for the next two years.
Airtel has the better offer where they are offering a maximum of Rs. 1000 discount that could save you Rs. 24000 over a period of two years.
But there are several problems with this model. First… you would be stuck with the same model for those 24 months… second… you would be stuck with the same service provider for those 2 years.
The packages on offer are not that great. Airtel is offering a 1000 rupee per month package with around 1300 MB data transfer. There are tons of free airtel to airtel calls but no free calls to other networks. You would still be paying a very high price for very little in return.
The end result is that if you really want to buy the official Indian version, it would be better to stick to your favorite service provider. Get the package that works for you instead of sticking with either airtel or Aircel.
Update: Found out the reason. Apparently my EDGE connection pack expired on 15th of this month. So, I was essentially paying 10 paisa per 10KB of usage. That ate the money in my account. I did not get any notification of the pack getting expired because they do not send any. And I cannot check the validity of the EDGE pack anywhere. Not on their website. Not using any of the shortcodes. I have to remember it! I recharged it for 3 months this time around. 90 days from now is December 24, 2010. I am not going to risk it again. Would recharge on December 22nd! Calendar event set for that day.
For the second time since I got their connection, I have noticed a major drop in my account balance.
I do not keep an eye on the balance as my usage is very low. But I am pretty sure that the balance was above 150 day before yesterday.
Yesterday, it was down to 30 bucks. And today morning when I woke up, the phone showed a ZERO balance.
I did not make any calls during this period. No SMSs either. I have not subscribed to any of their value added services. Never got any SMS about activation for it.
I assume that if they have even added some VAS to my account, I would at least get an SMS alert about it!
I can only assume that EDGE auto-renewal is activated on my account. Even then, it would just cut 98 rupees from the balance. Disappearing of 30 bucks from yesterday is a major mystery to me.
I cannot call 121 from my phone because of the ZERO balance problem. I would have to visit their local store today to get my phone back in service. I hope they have the ability to check my usage logs so that they can tell me what actually happened with my account.
This is sheer insanity.
Update: Interacting with Aircel Twitter Folks. They seem to be helpful.
I just had a rather amusing conversation with a Tata Indicom representative.
The call was related to my low usage on their connection I have owned for a couple of years now. Ever since I switched to the Google N1, I rarely use the older connection I have on Tata. I still retain it largely because of the number. Also because, I have more faith in it compared to Aircel when I am going out of town.