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Report : iPhone 6 in India: Offline retailers threaten boycott

Some mobile phone retailers have threatened to boycott Apple's much-awaited iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models after their expected pre-Diwali launch because they are miffed that the iPhone 5S is being offered at heavily discounted prices on popular e-commerce sites Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal.

According to sellers that ET spoke to, some of the 1.5 lakh retailers claimed they have returned their iPhone 5S models, saying they can't compete with the discounts, which have lowered the price of the device to less than their cost. "All over India, there is a huge uproar and heartburn among retailers against online sellers since their business and reputation is being lost," said Subhash Chandra, managing director of retail store chain Sangeetha Mobiles, adding that offline sellers were adversely affected as customers were increasingly going online.

A top executive at another retailer told ET that if things stay as they are, he would neither display nor sell the Apple iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.

Apple products are distributed in India by Redington and Ingram Micro. ET could not independently confirm whether retailers had returned iPhone 5S models. Apple didn't respond to e-mailed queries seeking comment. An executive close to dealings at Apple India said the company hasn't authorised marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal to sell iPhones in India. Infibeam is the sole authorised online seller for iPhones while Flipkart is authorised to sell iPads and iPods.

The emergence of online retailing and its pricing benefits and the rift created with traditional sales channels exists in other global markets as well.In India, where the online retail growth story has only just begun, about 12-14% of mobile phone sales are being diverted from offline retailers on a monthly basis, according to research firm Convergence Catalyst. This will only increase as internet penetration spreads and e-commerce grows.

"There is unrest among retailers, as even brands are supporting online," said Satish Babu, founder of retail store chain UniverCell Mobiles.