Ap­ple may face sour re­sponse in China

The Myanmar Times - - Business | International -

AP­PLE Inc’s dual SIM card de­sign for new iPhones in the Chi­nese mar­ket will res­onate well with lo­cal con­sumers, but the lack of a ma­jor up­grade is likely to dent their en­thu­si­asm to buy them, ex­perts said on Thurs­day.

The com­ments came shortly af­ter the US tech gi­ant un­veiled its big­gest and most ex­pen­sive iPhone at a launch event in Cal­i­for­nia. The iPhone Xs mod­els for China have a spe­cial de­sign: dual phys­i­cal SIM cards, dif­fer­ent from ver­sions in other coun­tries that come with an “eSIM” feature.

James Yan, an an­a­lyst with mar­ket re­search com­pany Coun­ter­point Re­search, said the move shows how Ap­ple is cater­ing to lo­cal in­dus­try part­ners and con­sumers’ tastes, high­light­ing the im­por­tance of the Chi­nese mar­ket for the world’s most valu­able com­pany.

“The ‘eSIM’ feature sup­ports two cel­lu­lar ser­vices and al­lows for eas­ier switch­ing be­tween car­ri­ers, but that is not what Chi­nese tele­com car­ri­ers want. So, Ap­ple chose to sup­port dual phys­i­cal SIM cards in China,” Yan said.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the dual-SIM card feature is very pop­u­lar in the world’s largest smart­phone mar­ket, but this is a late move for Ap­ple, as lo­cal smart­phone ven­dors such as Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co Ltd and Xiaomi Corp have al­ready ap­plied the feature to most of their hand­sets.

Cur­rently, Ap­ple en­joys close ties with China, with most of its man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions be­ing lo­cated in the na­tion. In the quar­ter ended in June, the US tech gi­ant posted a rev­enue of $9.55 bil­lion from China, mark­ing 19 per­cent year-on-year growth and rep­re­sent­ing 18 per­cent of its to­tal sales.

But Ap­ple is also un­der mount­ing pres­sure as Huawei, Xiaomi and other Chi­nese ri­vals scram­ble to ex­per­i­ment with cut­ting-edge tech­nolo­gies to build their image as in­no­va­tors.

At the prod­uct launch event on Wed­nes­day, Ap­ple show­cased iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and iPhone Xr, three new mod­els based on the iPhone X de­sign and feature set from last year.

Boast­ing faster pro­ces­sors, a big­ger screen and im­proved cam­era func­tion­al­ity, th­ese mod­els’ prices vary sig­nif­i­cantly, with the most ex­pen­sive ver­sion com­ing at 12,799 yuan ($1,819) and the cheap­est at 6,499 yuan.

Fu Liang, an in­de­pen­dent tele­com ex­pert, said Ap­ple’s in­cre­men­tal up­grade this year is likely to get a cold re­sponse from con­sumers.

“The three new mod­els look too sim­i­lar to last year’s iPhone X. But most Chi­nese con­sumers pre­fer smart­phones that can be eas­ily rec­og­nized at first sight,” Fu said.

His view was echoed by Yan, from Coun­ter­point. Ac­cord­ing to him, Ap­ple has had two fan­tas­tic sales per­for­mances in China, with the iPhone 6 and iPhone X. They sold quite well in China as they rep­re­sented very big changes from ear­lier ver­sions.

Zhang Wen­tao, a 26-year-old bank em­ployee in Bei­jing, is con­sid­er­ing up­grad­ing his iPhone 7. “I am dis­ap­pointed with the re­lease. They just look the same as the iPhone X,” Zhang said.

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