iPhone 5 launching in India and other countries on November 2

Echoing an earlier prediction by BGR India, The Economic Times has it on good authority that Apple is ready to launch the iPhone 5 in the 1.24 billion people market of India this coming Friday, November 2. The App Store now accepts local currency and everything is seemingly ready for the launch as Apple works to achieve its self-imposed goal of bringing the iPhone 5 to a hundred countries across 240 carriers by year’s end. According to web reports, come November 2 the iPhone 5 will also land on store shelves in Bulgaria, Croatia, GreeceMalta, Romania and Thailand and is also expected to hit the Dominican Republic and Mexico…

The article states that Apple originally wanted to launch the handset in India last Friday, but delayed the release by one week. As part of launch preparations, the company last Friday started billing in Indian rupee on the App Store.

The handset could be available across greater number of retailers and is expected to be sold contract-free, beginning at 45,000-50,000 rupees, or more than $850, for the entry-level model with sixteen gigabytes of storage.

It’ll be interesting seeing how the iPhone 5 performs in a country where 220 million handsets are sold per year. Unfortunately, these are mostly sub-$100 prepaid devices and Apple doesn’t have a sub-$100 contract-free iPhone to compete with numerous Android cheapos.

An average income in India is about a $1,000 per year. Excluding India’s upper class and the usual gallery of tycoons, well-paid managers and rich folks, India is also home to the largest concentration of people who live below the World Bank’s international poverty line of $1.25 per day.

Apple’s exorbitant pricing model in India coupled with the premium play that the iPhone still is has cost the company dearly: IDC pegged the iPhone’s second-quarter market share in India at only 1.2 percent of all handset sales, half the level a year earlier, versus a whopping 51 percent for Samsung.

Apple reportedly hasn’t abandoned plans to expand its presence in India by building its own retail outlets in the country, but complicated government regulation has so far proved an insurmountable obstacle.

I’m curious to learn from our readers in India their thoughts on the iPhone 5 availability and pricing in their country.