Vodafone to offer pricey iPhone 3G in India

The iPhone 3G from Apple will be available in India from August 22 through Vodafone, but it comes at a hefty price of 31,000 Indian rupees (US$715) for an 8GB flash drive model.

The price at which Vodafone is offering the phone will ensure that the iPhone 3G will not become a mass-market device in India. AT&T is offering the 8GB model at $199 in the U.S., bundled with a two-year contract. In the future, the company may offer a no-commitment option of $599 for 8GB and $699 for 16GB, it said.

Vodafone Essar, Vodafone's joint venture in India, had kept under wraps the date when it would launch the iPhone 3G in India and its price. Competitor Bharti Airtel announced that the phone would be available August 22 but has not yet disclosed the price.

Vodafone Essar has, however, put on its Web site the availability and pricing of the iPhone 3G. The company has also mentioned site that customers for the iPhone 3G who are not Vodafone customers will have to first sign up for Vodafone mobile service.

The iPhone 3G with 16GB of memory will sell for 36,100 rupees, the company said on its Web site. Vodafone Essar was not immediately available for comment.

An Apple spokeswoman said earlier this month that music and video downloads from Apple's iTunes music store would not be available to Indian customers, though customers will be able to download applications from the App Store.

Both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have cautioned on their Web sites that the iPhone on launch in India will not be offered on 3G networks, and some of the features of the iPhone 3G will not be immediately available.

The Indian government has announced plans for the auction of 3G spectrum this year, and the commercial roll out of 3G services is expected in the first half of next year.

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