Indian users upset over late iPad 2 launch in the country

The first version of the iPad was only launched in January in India

Indian buyers of Apple's products are upset that the country does not figure in Apple's plans to roll out the iPad in global markets, and some of them said they will not buy the earlier version of the iPad that has been on sale in the country since January.

"After I read about the iPad 2, I decided not to purchase the earlier version iPad being sold in India," said Sujay Rao, a micro-neurosurgeon in Bangalore.

Apple started selling the iPad 2 in the U.S. earlier this month, and said on Wednesday that it plans to start shipping the iPad 2 on Friday in 25 countries including the U.K. and Australia. Apple's announcement suggests it has no supply chain problems for now, although analysts have warned that supplies of components from Japan used in the device could be affected following the earthquake there.

The version of the iPad that Apple is offering in India is at the end of its life cycle, said K. Purushottam, a business consultant who is planning to buy a tablet PC. This strategy of Apple's is in contrast with that of other vendors of PCs, mobile phones and consumer electronics products who often launch their products in India concurrently with their global launches, Purushottam said.

"If Apple delays with its iPad 2, we will consider buying a tablet PC from another vendor," he said.

Other users said that they would consider purchasing the iPad 2 when traveling abroad, rather than buy the previous version in India.

Apple also said on Wednesday that it plans to ship the iPad 2 by April in Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong, and some additional countries. It did not give the names of the other countries that will be covered in the April rollout.

India will however have to wait beyond April for the iPad 2, according to a source at Apple India who declined to be named. A date for the availability of the iPad 2 in India has not been finalized, he said.

"India has been one of the last countries to get the iPad, and this is a big mistake," said Rao, the surgeon. He believes that Apple should also invest in a development center in the country, which will save the company costs, and also help develop tools appropriate for the local market.

By offering products that are not localized in Indian languages, Apple is losing out on local language users who have to buy products from Microsoft which support Indian languages, Rao added.

India is not a large volume market for Apple, and the country's 3G and Wi-Fi infrastructure is not yet ready for products like the iPad, analysts said.

Apple did not comment for this story.

The iPad 2 will ship on Friday in Australia, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand, and in Europe in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.

The iPad 2 with Wi-Fi will be available in these countries for a suggested retail price of US$499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 32GB model, and $699 for the 64GB model, Apple said. The iPad 2, with support for Wi-Fi and 3G, will be available for a suggested retail price of $629 for the 16GB model, $729 for the 32GB model and $829 for the 64GB model, it added.

The aftermath of the earthquake in Japan may cause logistical disruptions and supply shortages for some parts that are sourced from Japan for the production of the iPad 2, research firm, IHS iSuppli, said last week.

While some of the suppliers reported that their facilities were undamaged, delivery of components from all of these companies is likely to be impacted by logistical problems in the quake zone, IHS iSuppli said. The various challenges are being compounded by interruptions in the electricity supply, it added.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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John Ribeiro

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