iPhone in India ?

Amidst rumors floating wildly that a consignment of iPhones had found it’s way to Delhi (hard to believe given Apple’s tight security) and subsequent news that the iPhone had in fact been unlocked (in, of all the places Palika Bazaar) I could not resist writing about what happened this evening.

I dropped into a cell phone store with the vague idea of dumping my Treo 680 and going back to the gold standard of Nokia. While browsing through some handsets- sim unlocked of course, a young man entered and began a conversation with the shop owner.

In Hindi it went somewhat like this:

Young Man: Have you that new phone by Apple?
Shop Owner ignores the young man.
YM: The Apple-wallah phone. The iPhone. It was launched in the US on June 29th.
Shop Owner acknowledges him but looks away.
YM (now restless): You’re not showing it to me.
SO: (speaking for the first time) Sir, USA has old technology. Why do you want to buy a phone from USA?
YM: But it’s the iPhone!
SO: Sir, trust me. They use CDMA it’s useless. They don’t use GSM.

I decide to chip in.

Me: It’s a quad band GSM. But it’s SIM locked. There are rumors that it has been unlocked in India.

My last words are drowned out in the young man’s excitement. He pleads again with the shop owner.
Shop owner now busies himself in other work. The Young Man gets restless and excited. He’s convinced the owner is not revealing all.

YM to SO: Why aren’t you showing me the handset?
The Shop Owner looks up at him. His face is blank. Young Man persists. He really wants an iPhone.
But beneath the excited exterior lies a seasoned shopper who knows how to negotiate these markets.

YM (quietly to the Owner): Shall I come back in a few days?
The Shop Owner looks at him and nods.
YM: In 3 or 4 days?
Shop Owner nods again.

A deal has been made. And this time I am, as they say gob-smacked.

Sure, I’ve heard anything can happen. But wow, can they actually unlock an iPhone? Or has it already been done?

I left empty handed clutching my Treo and beginning to think whether I should…