I have always failed to understand why some of the greatest gadgets ever to be launched never make their debut at the same time in India or China (touted to become the biggest consumer markets), as in the western markets. Well, I get the argument that a lot more people in the western countries can afford them. However, gadget makers are missing a point...
Let's take the example of Apple. They have always been a niche segment player in the western economies catering to the higher end of the market. I believe they were forced to operate in the fringes with their Mac line of products due to Microsoft's dominance and the open architecture of PCs.
With the iPod, iPhone and iPad line of products, Apple had a chance to change this in the emerging markets of India and China at least. Apple had a 12-18 month lead in the all these products before a worthy equivalent entered the fray from a competitor. However none of these were introduced in India to take advantage of this lead time. Even when they were introduced, in the case of iPhone they were tied to network operators much like the model in US, a model I feel never caught the fancy of average Indian consumer who likes choices and is spoilt by them.When iPad 1 was introduced there was a lot of media frenzy created by the local media. However the gadget was not even available in the stores to take advantage of the demand created just by media frenzy. Along came Samsung's Galaxy Tab that soaked up all this demand.
Extend this example to Amazon Kindle. Not available at the same price to this day in India as in US. While it costs 7000 INR in US, buying it in India via some of the resellers means you pay not less than 9000 INR. I am sure you will have a Asian version soon to soak up the pent up demand.
At least with iPad 2 to be launched the coming week in India, I think there will be a reversal in this trend. Hopefully gadget makers in the western economies realize sooner than later that emerging markets give them an opportunity to change their market positions vis-a-vis what they hold currently. If you have a path breaking innovation in product ready form, there is absolutely no reason for you not to make the product available in emerging markets and reach out to the billions.
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