Ever since the first iPhone was released in 2007, it has been popular in India. I don’t mean popular in terms of sales numbers, but in terms of the buzz it creates, amount of discussions around it and people asking if they can get one for $199. A good discount on the iPhone 5s still fills up my twitter stream and several of my friends picked up one recently. While I have managed to stick to a Moto X (1st Gen) for now, I often keep contemplating a move to the world of iOS again. No this isn’t a post about Android vs iOS vs Windows Phone. My platform of choice is iOS and I have invested in training myself to use it over half a decade now. Not to forget the apps I have bought. But while I still build up the budget to buy myself an iPhone again (and get ready to carry two phones), I managed to get one for my mom, an iPhone 5c.
And that’s where I remembered a conversation with Javed Anwar at a CCD in Connaught Place several years back. Javed spoke to me about his experience with the iPhone that shipped with a Micro SIM slot and the need for iTunes to activate it. He mentioned that it was unfair to expect a common user in India to get his SIM trimmed or source a Micro SIM. Or use iTunes to even setup the device. And not to mention the pain of transferring media (video formats) to the iPhone. It is just too difficult for a common user and that’s all he points in his reviews.
In the post PC era as Apple suggests, some of this has become easy. Micro SIMs may be more easily available and you need not connect to a PC to activate your iPhone. But you still need a credit card to download WhatsApp on that new iPhone 5c. How else can I make an App Store account and get the free apps on this iPhone 5c? Oh yea, a simple google search will give you hacks to create an iTunes account (from desktop I think) without a credit card. Well, you lost my mom as a user there.
There are things about iOS that I appreciate and I may have enough resource as an individual to not realise a lot of these pains for an end user. But I can’t help but ignore the fact that Maps is broken (Edit: I am referring to the fact that it doesn’t work at all in India). You may ask me to download Google Maps, but when someone shares his / her location with me on WhatsApp, I have to walk towards a blue dot on a blank canvas somewhere in Bangalore. Some of this may get resolved with iOS 8, some with future releases. But let’s get it clear, mobile is a service, not a hardware. I care about Siri recognizing my accent, I care about Maps & I care about setting up my mom’s phone quickly so that she can WhatsApp me.
It may not be feasible to bring something like Apple Pay to India and I can live without it. But the next time someone who wants an iPhone and I think cannot set up their own phone easily, I am going to ask them to buy something that just works.