Dressed in a black T-shirt and blue jeans, I was rushing through the busy Andheri market in a daze – when I saw a bearded gentleman in the exact same attire digging into a plate of greasy Ragda-Pattice. Considering I wasn’t exactly dressed in a Rohit Bal creation with exotic seam work and colors outside the gamut of the human eye – I wasn’t nearly as embarrassed as the Shetty sisters when they arrived at an awards function wearing the same red mini-skirt. How drool…sorry, droll. But still – something about the man struck me as familiar. So I turned to look at him as I passed by. He saw me looking at him, stuffing his face with fingers dripping with red oil and “imli-sauce” and realizing his attempts at anonymity were failing…he immediately tilted the plate up to hide his face. Unfortunately the circular cakes of delight did not defy gravity – and rolled down his black T-shirt and jeans…creating, well – as you imagine – a complete mess. He blurted, “Oh F***!” – in a distinct American accent…and then I realized who he was.
“Mr.Steve Jibes?” I asked. He looked up at me with patties all over his face and clothes – and tried to smile.
“I guess, my cover is blown…” said the founder of the Mac and Chief Perpetrator of the iPhone.
I looked at the mess he’d created…and said “Yeah, you can say that! Didn’t know you were into street food!”
Jibes: “Just trying to get a taste of Indian street culture… after all this is the next big market for the greatest product that mankind has ever seen! And (licking his soiled fingers disgustingly) these Potato Cakes can really kick Fillet Mignon’s ass! Now I know why you guys eat so much and create all that food shortage! Damn! These are good…”
Grimescene: “They are called Ragda Pattice. Anyway…I assume you are talking about the iPhone which will be launched this Friday…”
Jibes (lifting a couple of morsels from his T-shirt and putting them back into his mouth):”Yeah! Isn’t it great that we don’t believe your country is Third World and that you too deserve to enjoy the best technology from the USofA…”
Grimescene: “But, you have priced it at $800 for the base model! Who do you think will buy it?”
Jibes: “Oh – you underestimate the brand value of an Apple product. We have been over-pricing our products for the past 20 years…and successfully – I might add.”
Grimescene: “But still – it costs $199 in the US! It is 4 times the price in India…don’t you think you are fleecing us?”
Jibes: “Look…let me get something straight… that $199 is just a Marketing thing ok? Did you know that the poor suckers who buy it will have to shell out $240 for an annual contract with AT&T – on the spot? In effect the annual ownership of an iPhone just went up by $40… smart eh? That’s why we rock dude…” (And he raised his oily hands for a high-five which I tactfully ignored.)
Grimescene: “But still that makes it twice the price here…and you still have a 2 MP camera without flash or video recording. The iPhone still isn’t MMS ready. The software keyboard frankly sucks. No stereo Bluetooth. No Instant Messenger…no cut-and-paste… sir, my Rs.8K Nokia has all that and more.”
Jibes: “I have two words for you…Three and G. Dude, you will be surfing at Space Shuttle speeds, even while sitting in one of your crummy buses…”
Grimescene: “I don’t remember the last time I got to sit in one of our crummy buses…but that’s beside the point. Last I heard 3G networks are still quite a way off in this country… did you check that before you decided to use the Indian market as your retirement fund?”
Jibes (now looking around for an escape route): “Lets not get nasty here… let me explain why we have priced the iPhone so high here… just for your ears, considering you look murderous right now.”
Grimescene: “I am all ears.”
Jibes (in hushed tones): “You know about all those near-stampedes that the launches in the US created? They were bad enough…with people lining for days outside the stores and all. Don’t get me wrong…all good for business – but you know, someone can get hurt. Bad PR. Now…can you imagine what kind of response we would have got for our sexy product in India, if we priced it competitively? Man – it would be pandemonium. Someone will get hurt! Your cities are already so chaotic…we didn’t want to add to it. So – the high price.” (and he winked knowingly.)
Grimescene: “Oh, I see… and it is not because India has one of the fastest growing upwardly-mobile populations in the world – and you want to make a quick buck while the hype lasts?”
Jibes (with a poorly rendered look of shock): “Now now…whatever made you think that?!!”
Grimescene: “Then I wish you luck Mr.Jibes. Just so that you know – I don’t believe a word you say – and I think your product has more style than substance. We may be an upwardly mobile and brand conscious people – but we are not dumb. We can see through your charade. I think I will stick to my Nokia. Meanwhile – what the heck are you doing in the back-alleys of Andheri?!”
Jibes (in tones even hushed further): “Someone told me you get cheap “unlocked” iPhones here…so getting one for the wife…you understand…”
Grimescene: “Yes I do Mr.Jibes. I wish you a good day – and I hope you have a good trip back to your private island…”
This piece is a work of fiction and the characters and situations described are purely fictitious. Any resemblances with real characters are purely coincidental.
Update: I found a better commentary on this Apple pie. http://krishashok.wordpress.com/2008/07/27/kaka-kronicles-episode-8/ – Thanks Abha…