Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - As Apple aficionados around the globe flocked to stores to get their hands on a new iPhone 5 this weekend, customers in Indonesia were left in the dark as to when the latest must-have smartphone from the tech giant would make its local bow.
Djoko Purwanto, 36, lives in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, and went to Mal Ambassador shopping centre in South Jakarta this weekend to see if the touchscreen-based smartphone was already on sale via the grey market.
The sixth-generation iPhone was indeed available at Mal Ambassador shopping centre, Purwanto said, albeit marked up to 12 million rupiah (US$1,257) for a 16 gigabyte model and 13 million rupiah for a 32 GB model. In the US, prices for the iPhone 5 16GB start at $199 with a 2-year data plan, or $649 for the unlocked version.
"In Indonesia, there is no official representative for Apple Inc., let alone Apple [Retail] Stores. Apple clearly favours countries where they have their representatives," Purwanto said.
Darwin Lie, a market analyst with the International Data Company (IDC), said that while the growth of Apple users in Indonesia has been quite significant, the vagaries of the market and the relatively high prices charged by Apple for its products were important factors.
According to the IDC, the shipment of iPhones to Indonesia in the second quarter of 2012 was up 36 per cent from the same period last year.
On Indonesia's exclusion from the iPhone 5 launch, Lie said that Apple Inc. was already facing challenges in meeting demand for the smartphone.
Moreover, Lie said that local telecommunications operators did not subsidise phone purchases for customers.
"In other countries, the operators would subsidise this type of phones and thus creating cheaper products for the consumers," he told The Jakarta Post.
Contacted separately, Sugiono Wiryono Sugialam, the president director of PT Trikomsel Oke, a local publicly listed telephone distributor, said that the firm was in discussions with several local telecommunications operators to provide the iPhone 5 in Indonesia.
"We hope that we can make the new product available for local market within the year," Sugialam said.
Meanwhile, the vice president for corporate communications for PT XL Axiata, Turina Farouk, said that XL was waiting for confirmation from Apple Inc. to sell the iPhone 5 in Indonesia.
Separately, the head of PT Telkomsel's corporate secretariat, Asli Brahmana, declined to discuss potential iPhone sales, saying that the firm was still in the "assessment process".
Both Telkomsel and XL Axiata have previously offered bundling promotions for iPhone 4S purchases.
By Sept. 28, the iPhone 5 is expected to be available for sale in 31 countries, and will be in 100 by the end of the calendar year, Reuters reported.