Ap­ple loses its shine in China

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By MASI masi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Due to the lim­ited im­prove­ments seen in suc­ces­sive iPhone mod­els and a wider range of al­ter­na­tives from do­mes­tic smart­phone mak­ers, Chi­nese con­sumers are less en­thu­si­as­tic about the up­com­ing iPhone, which will be un­veiled on Thurs­day Beijing Time, ex­perts said.

Sina Weibo, the Chi­nese coun­ter­part of Twit­ter, shows that in the month be­fore this year’s launch, the new iPhone has only at­tracted one fif­teenth as many com­ments as the iPhone 6 man­aged to gen­er­ate dur­ing the same pe­riod last year.

This is echoed by the lat­est data from China’s big­gest search en­gine Baidu Inc. In July, there were only 96.8 mil­lion iPhone-re­lated searches, mark­ing a 27 per­cent drop from last year’s fig­ure.

JamesYan, re­search di­rec­tor at Coun­ter­point Tech­nol­ogy Mar­ket Re­search, said that as Chi­nese firms make big im­prove­ments on hard­ware com­po­nents, con­sumers be­come less ea­ger to talk about Ap­ple Inc’s new­prod­ucts.

“Smart­phone hard­ware is no longer Ap­ple’s edge, be­cause the mar­ket is now very ma­ture and it is highly dif­fi­cult to come up with in­no­va­tive prod­ucts that can thrill ev­ery­one,” Yan said.

Ac­cord­ing to him, lo­cal ven­dors such as Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co Ltd are catch­ing up quickly, and even out­do­ing Ap­ple hard­ware.

The de­clin­ing pop­u­lar­ity of iPhones high­lights the chal­lenges Ap­ple is fac­ing in China, which was once the firm’s fastest-grow­ing mar­ket, but has re­cently be­come a source of dis­ap­point­ments. In the quar­ter ended in June, Ap­ple saw a 33 per­cent drop in sales in China.

Wang Wanli, a 26-year-old sales man­ager in Beijing, said he has been us­ing iPhones for three years and now is con­sid­er­ing whether to buy an iPhone 7 or Moto Z, the lat­est hand­set re­leased by the Chi­nese ven­dor Len­ovo Group Ltd.

“I don’t ex­pect a big im­prove­ment in the iPhone 7. But, I am quite fa­mil­iar with Ap­ple’s op­er­at­ing sys­tem,” he added. “At the same time, Moto Z is the world’s first mod­u­lar hand­set and sounds very in­ter­est­ing. I want to have a try.”

Wang is not alone. Of five con­sumers China Daily ran­domly in­ter­viewed on the street on Wed­nes­day, not one of them is ready to buy the new iPhone, cit­ing the ex­pen­sive price tag and lim­ited im­prove­ments as ma­jor con­cern.

Ni­cole Peng, re­search di­rec­tor at Shang­hai-based con­sul­tancy Canalys, said Ap­ple still dom­i­nates the above-3,000 yuan ($450) hand­set mar­ket where most con­sumers re­main loyal to the brand.

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