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iPhone Enthusiasm In China Dampened By $1,000 Price Tag

iPhone Enthusiasm In China Dampened By $1,000 Price Tag
Hoping that number’s auspicious connotations in China will help turn around fortunes in the world’s biggest smartphone market after six quarters of falling sales, Apple Inc will launch an expected “iPhone 8” on Tuesday.
But with the latest model tipped to have a price tag upward of $1,000 - roughly double the average Chinese monthly salary, Chinese shoppers, however, are already counting the cost of the new model.

Apple has seen its once-coveted phone slip into fifth position in China behind offerings from local rivals Huawei Technologies Co Ltd , Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi Inc., and the success of Apple’s next iPhone in China is crucial for the Cupertino-based firm.
the company’s top market after the United States and Europe and accounting for roughly 18 percent of iPhone sales in the quarter ended in July was Greater China, which for Apple includes Taiwan and Hong Kong. And in contrast with growth in all other regions, compared to a year earlier, those sales have been declining steadily and are down 10 percent.
And data from consultancy Counterpoint Research showed that down from 14 percent in 2015, the iPhone’s share of China’s smartphone shipments fell to 9 percent in January-June.
Models since the launch of iPhone 6 have received a more muted response even as that model took China by storm in 2014.
“I’ll wait for a drop in price, it’s too expensive,” said Angie Chen, 23, a project manager in Nanjing and iPhone 6 owner.
“It’s a nice number to hear, but there’s no rush,” Chen said.
Because it sounds similar to the phrase meaning “to get rich”, eight is the luckiest number in China.
“Apple really needs to launch a very innovative product this time around,” said Mo Jia, Shanghai-based analyst at Canalys. However, the rising clout of local rivals would nevertheless make life tough for the U.S. firm, he said. “It has its work cut out.”
it was too similar to earlier models was the perception that plagued the iPhone 7. This time, Chinese netizens are yet to replicate the online mania around previous iPhone launches despite talk of wireless charging, advanced touch screen and facial recognition technology.
but running slightly ahead of the similar period before the iPhone 7 launch was mentions of “iPhone 8” on popular Chinese social media platform Weibo - an indicator of consumer interest. However, it was far more muted than with the iPhone 6.
The rise of sales on credit will be one effect of Apple’s costliest phone to date.
Shoppers buying iPhones on the site had increased alongside rising prices - spiking in the second quarter of the year, said Fenqile, a platform backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd allowing users to pay in instalments.
Aimed at price-conscious smartphone buyers, including flexible payment services and second-hand smartphone rentals, services backed by Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd and Inc have also introduced features this year.
Supported by three state-linked banks, Apple itself has launched an instalments plan in China.
“If it’s under $1,100 then I’ll buy it,” said Liu Song, 29, who works for a fintech startup in Beijing. “It’s manageable over 12 months for me, though I know some friends who are paying off phones for longer.”

Christopher J. Mitchell

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