Apple’s iPhone to launch in India on Friday

NEW DELHI, August 22, 2008 (AFP) – Apple’s iconic iPhone was slated to make its debut Friday in India, home to the world’s fastest-growing mobile market, officials said. The 3G or third generation phone will sell for more than triple its US price tag in India, which has emerged as a key battleground for makers of high-end mobile handsets thanks to the nation’s increasingly affluent middle-class

“We believe this iPhone fever we’ve seen globally will catch on in India,” said Sanjay Kapoor, mobile services president for Bharti Airtel, the country’s largest mobile operator.

The launch is part of a 70-country rollout of the high-speed phone, which includes a built-in iPod and a desktop-class web browser.

Bharti Airtel and rival Vodafone Essar will sell the phone for 31,000 rupees (712 dollars) for the eight-gigabyte memory model, and 36,100 for the 16 GB version.

The Indian price is far higher than the 199 dollars paid by US customers to the telecom giant AT&T for the phone.

AT&T heavily subsidises the phone in the United States and makes money by tying the customer to annual subscriptions, whereas Indian mobile providers have no such service