Apple unveils new iPhones in Beijing

By Chen Dujuan Source:Global Times Published: 2013-9-11 23:23:01

US technology company Apple Inc hosted its first-ever iPhone product launch in Beijing Wednesday and announced it will include China for the first time in the first batch of countries and regions to sell its latest products, indicating the company's growing emphasis on its second-largest market.

The iPhone 5S, which features a finger­print scanner, and the cheaper plastic iPhone 5C will become available in several nations including China, US and Japan on September 20. Consumers can make pre-orders for the iPhone 5C starting Friday, Apple said.

The 16-gigabyte iPhone 5S is priced at 5,288 yuan ($864), and the 16G ­iPhone 5C at 4,488 yuan ($733) in China, while their respective costs in the US are $649 and $549.

Analysts and experts applauded the fact that Apple's new product launch in China was being held at almost the same time as in the US.

Foreign companies should treat China without bias and bring their most advanced technology to the market, Li Xiaogang, a research fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Wednesday.

It is not surprising that Apple began to pay greater importance to China, as the country has become the world's largest smartphone market, Wang Jun, a smartphone analyst with Beijing-based Analysys International, told the Global Times Wednesday.

Apple's dwindling performance in China may be another reason.

The US company's sales in China fell 14 percent year-on-year during the fiscal third quarter that ended June 29.

Its share in China's smartphone market has fallen from 9 percent in the first quarter to 5 percent in the second quarter, ranking seventh and lagging significantly behind Samsung's 18 percent and domestic producers like Lenovo and Huawei, according to research firm Canalys.

Apple's declining performance in China was mainly caused by a lack of product innovation in its recent products, and simply showing goodwill to China will not necessarily please Chinese consumers, Wang said.

"I will not buy the new iPhone products because they are too ugly. I think the iPhone is gradually losing its core competitiveness - a combination of technology and artistry," said Xing Lu, an iPhone 4 user in Beijing.

The iPhone 5S comes in silver, gold and gray and the iPhone 5C has five colors - blue, green, pink, yellow and white.

"The company's aim to broaden its product line fails because the 5S and 5C, with a price gap of only 800 yuan, will target similar consumers and compete with each other," Wang Jun said.

Apple cannot target cost-conscious consumers in China with the iPhone 5C, Wang Jingwen, an analyst with Canalys, told the Global Times Wednesday.

A survey by news portal Wednesday showed that 86 percent of over 200,000 respondents believed the 5C is still on the pricey side.

Apple needs special subsidies from operators to lower the phone's upfront cost to remain aggressive in China, as the low-end segment is the driving factor of China's smartphone market and the high-end segment is reaching saturation, Wang from Canalys said.

China's telecom operators have yet to announce subsidy packages for the new iPhones.

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