Apple is meeting with two Indian telecom carriers in hopes of releasing the iPhone in India, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Apple has reportedly been in talks with Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices for four to five months regarding a potential iPhone based on CDMA technology. The report comes on the heels of last week's news that Apple will build a CDMA version of the iPhone for sale by Verizon early next year. Apple is also reportedly in talks to bring the iPad to South Korea.
While it is unclear when any launch in India might take place, bringing the iPhone to the world's largest democracy is likely a priority for Apple — India's smartphone market is expected to grown more than 78 percent annually to 38 million units in 2014. The country's rapid economic expansion and the ubiquity of American brands and media has created a monied class that covets the same technology products available to their peers in London and Los Angeles.
Apple currently accounts for less than one percent of smartphones in
India, where the cheapest iPhone available costs $670, more than double
the models sold in the U.S. (Though Hillicon Valley noted numerous
Indian travelers returning home toting brand-new iPhone 4s and iPads when headed to India in August.) Nokia dominates among Indian smartphone users, with 71 percent of the market.
With almost one billion citizens, the Indian mobile market is uniquely diverse, with a base of users ranging from a middle class of more than 300 million to an even larger number of users from rural areas or impoverished backgrounds who are largely illiterate and for whom a mobile phone is one of the only pieces of technology they own.
The lengthy bureaucratic process for obtaining a traditional landline has helped propel adoption of mobile devices in the subcontinent, though most of those users rely on basic Nokia handsets rather than the latest smartphone technology.