A notice outside a Park Street cellphone shop. (Sayantan Ghosh)
“Boys will be boys! AR Rahman and I playing with the iPhone5 :)”
— Shekhar Kapoor on Twitter on Friday
For once, Calcutta too is playing with the latest iPhone.
“iPhone 5 1st lot sold out!!!!!!” says a notice put up outside a mobile phone store on Park Street last week. What it does not say is that the second lot has already been booked even though it is yet to arrive.
From Sarat Bose Road to Salt Lake, the scene is the same in shops selling the newest version of the Apple smartphone: the first lot flew off the shelves — in the bigger stores, within 48 hours of the November 2 launch — and customers have made advance payments for the entire second lot, which might arrive only on Diwali-eve.
“We started selling the iPhone 5 on November 3 and exhausted our stock the next day,” said the manager of iStore, an exclusive Apple reseller on Park Street. Over 400 people had signed up at the shop in October to receive information about the launch date and price of the phone in India.
All six versions of the iPhone have set sales record across the globe but such demand for the pricey tech tool — sticker shock starts at Rs 45,500 for the basic 16GB model — is unprecedented in Calcutta.
“It had taken us about 10 days to sell the first lot of the iPhone 4S (the last version of the phone) last November,” said the manager of the iStore.
The two Apple distributors, Redington India and Ingram Micro, are tight-lipped about the number of units supplied to the stores. Sources said it was in hundreds, far behind the thousands of units supplied to Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
Mobile retailers in the city, however, are ready to vouch for the “unprecedented” demand for the latest iPhone. “The last two iPhones, 4S and 4, too had created buzz but that did not translate into sales,” said one of them.
iStore has been receiving about 50 enquiries a day and at least six of those dropping in are offering to pay an advance. There is also “healthy” demand for the 32GB and 64GB models, priced at Rs 52,500 and Rs 59,500, respectively. These have not been released in the market yet.
According to retailers, the timing of the launch — two weeks before Diwali — has helped sales. The ad campaign did not hurt either.
Jal Balsara, a businessman who gifted an iPhone 5 to his wife the day it was released, said: “I thought an iPhone would be a much better and more innovative Diwali present than jewellery.”
The iFanatic has also found in Dhanteras, when it is a custom to buy metal products, the perfect occasion to get an iPhone. “What could be a better Dhanteras purchase than the new iPhone, which has an all-aluminium body,” said Aman Arora, who owns a mobile store in Chandni Chowk.
However, those who have not made advance booking stand slim chance of making a festive purchase. Distributors said fresh stock would reach stores on Saturday but retailers said they weren’t expecting it before Monday.
The delay is because demand has outstripped supply. With Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that manufactures the phone, struggling to cope with the demand, distributors have received fewer phones than they expected.