back to article China still doesn't want iPhones despite Apple slashing prices, say market watchers

Price cuts in China have not helped revive demand for Apple's iPhone according to an analyst firm cited by Bloomberg. Longbow Research used searches on China's dominant search engine, Baidu, to draw its conclusions, reckoning that year-on-year, interest had fallen by 47 per cent from 2018. Tim Cook Peak Apple: This time it's …

  1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    I must be Chinese

    I don't want an iPhone, even if it's cheap.

    1. djstardust

      Re: I must be Chinese

      Couldn't agree more.

      I seriously hope their retail units go as well, so their beardy partonising "geniuses" can go and get jobs in Starbucks where they belong.

      Overpriced, out of date crap with poor customer support especially regarding manufacturing defects.

      Screw em!

    2. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: I must be Chinese

      My work issued me a large Iphone ( we call them Duplo Phones - Duplo in relation top the fact that less intellectually developed love them) and even though it's free for me I still don't like it. I am currently trying to convince them to replace it with the Huawei P20 Mate which is basically the bigger version of my personal P10 Pro..

    3. Colin Ritman

      Re: I must be Chinese

      The Chinese are smart, they understand status isn't bought (or more likely rented for £50/month idiot contract), status is earnt, there are no shortcuts.

      Nothing shouts Bellend louder than a iPhone owner, if you want proof, go take a look at every iphone case on Amazon, and wonder why there is a hole in the back, for the logo to show itself - A Hole for Aholes....

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: I must be Chinese

        The Chinese are smart, they understand status isn't bought (or more likely rented for £50/month idiot contract), status is earnt, there are no shortcuts.

        That must explain then why bribery in China is rampant and is a culturally acceptable (if not legally acceptable - at least if you get caught) part of daily life, and has been for thousands of years?

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: I must be Chinese

          A lot of superciliousness about iPhones here. Anyone would think there were some insecure folk about feeling the need to assert their choice as superior and put down others who disagree. Speaks volumes.

          I can’t stand Apple or their iPhones either, but I used a cheap refurb one until recently because the alternative from google I found was even worse. Even though there is some very nice hardware out there, the low rent OS drags them all down to crap level. And a monoculture in phone OS would be bad for the market and consumer choice.

          I’m now using sailfish X on 2 devices, which is a long way from perfect but I’m much happier with it. If Android was the only choice then I would. choose no phone.

        2. VikiAi Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: I must be Chinese

          To be fair, you can't lump all Chinese into either category. When I was teaching university there, I noticed a distinctly healthier attitude towards money and wealth in the up-coming generation than in the older Chinese (who, to be fair, were all very new to the whole concept). That - 10 years on - those same uni students I observed are now in the middle of the phone-buying demographic may or may not be significant.

    4. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: I must be Chinese

      I agree entirely.

  2. el kabong Silver badge

    I suppose they just need more and iPhones fall short of their needs.

    Maybe, just maybe, Chinese people don't see much value in belonging to a cult with western roots, perhaps being a member of that cult does not mean much to them. Perhaps the Chinese value bang for the buck more than those in the cult do.

    Yes I know, for those in the cult something like that may sound inconceivable, preposterous even, but you know there are all kinds of people out there, even weirdos who don't crave, or even care about apple stuff, they do exist. REALLY!!!

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I suppose they just need more and iPhones fall short of their needs.

      The Chinese state retains the right to monitor its citizens, so the chief advantage of an iPhone in the West - that it doesn't run on a data slurping advertising business model like Android does - is lost on China.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I suppose they just need more and iPhones fall short of their needs.

      Price/features have NOTHING to do with the lack of iPhone sales; just go out onto the streets of any Chinese city and ask the question.

      Between Apple publicly saying Huawei phones were crap, and the US banning the company from infrastructure deals, the Chinese people are feeling very French*, and buying Huawei, Ovo, and other local brands instead.

      * I once asked a French ski instructor why all the ski school were using Atomic skis, when every review panned them, and customers kept complaining they fell apart after 2 weeks use.

      "But they are French" came the reply.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I suppose they just need more and iPhones fall short of their needs.

        The Chinese gov has a social credit system wherein you earn credits by doing things that are good for China. I suspect buying an iPhone instead of a Chinese brand would lower your social credit and that leads me to suspect that much of iPhones lack of sales in China is due to that.

        https://www.wired.co.uk/article/china-social-credit-system-explained

        This is what you get in an uber surveillance society.

      2. hj

        Re: I suppose they just need more and iPhones fall short of their needs.

        Funny that, cause they are Austrian.. Even better famous French brand Salomon has been bought by Atomic, that"s why Salomon are OK now in Austria...

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Just ban Huawei

    Then they will be forced to buy iPhones

    Does anyone have the number of a good political lobbyist in Beijing ?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think Tim Cook should stop hanging around with billionaires and see what the average man in the street can afford and is prepared to pay for a mobile phone.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Who cares about the average man in the street?

      Have you ever tried to get rich by selling stuff to the average peasant ?

      1. el kabong Silver badge

        I haven't

        But I know of a few people who tried that and according to reports they did just fine, I suspect a few of them have you as a customer too. Have you tasted a certain brownish soft drink, or Colonel Sanders fried chicken?

        As you can see selling to the average peasant can be very rewarding from a financial perspective.

      2. Ryan Clark

        I suggest you have a look at what Chris Dawson sells at the Range and how much he is now worth.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          > As you can see selling to the average peasant can be very rewarding from a financial perspective

          That's fine if you're KFC, not so much if you're Waitrose.

          There are several viable positions in an ecosystem. The reason that lions don't run faster is that that position is already taken by cheetahs.

      3. JohnFen Silver badge

        "Have you ever tried to get rich by selling stuff to the average peasant ?"

        Plenty of people have become extremely wealthy doing just that.

  5. andy 103

    I do want one...BUT...

    I've currently got an SE and to be honest it's more than good enough for my needs.

    We've got to a point with hardware where it's becoming increasingly difficult to justify upgrades. The "cheapest" way to buy an XR (considered their "basic model" in the new line) is to buy it outright. There's 2 ways of doing this: spend £745 upfront, or use an offer currently on Apple's website where you can do 12 months interest free...which is £62/month. Oh yeah, that's just the phone. Now to use it I need a service plan. A basic £10/month SIM free and I'm now spending over £70 a month...on a phone. Compared to my paid off, perfectly usable SE, which only costs me £10/month for the airtime/data.

    That doesn't even consider the more expensive XS models which can go up to, I believe, £1200? Or people who think they're getting a great deal because their contracts are £50/month, but are locked in for 24 months minimum.

    It's really when you start to consider what else you can buy each month for the kind of money you're spending that you'll quickly decide your 2 year old phone is probably fine, and you can go and have life experiences that will bring you more joy using the spare change.

    The price is a factor - but it's also the fact that existing technology is more than good enough for most people - lowering the incentive for them to bother.

    All in my opinion, and I'm not in China.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I do want one...BUT...

      It amazes me, given the demise of the compact Sonys, that no Chinese company is making an SE replacement. Without the big button they could get a 4.5 to 5 inch display in a not much different form factor, allowing for the bigger battery needed for Android, and a lot of them seem to copy the L&F of iOS anyway.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: I do want one...BUT...

        I dont know if this is anecdata but I believe the current trend for stoopidly big displays came from Asia in the first place. See Huawei and others.

  6. HarryBl

    Xiaomi MI A2 lite - 180 quid.

    1. DeKrow

      +1

      Xiaomi A1, had it for a while now, still outstanding as the daily driver, recently got the Android Pie (9) update. $260 at the time (140 quid)

  7. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    If you want to have an Apple shiny because you've already bought all the previous Apple shinies then fair enough. I know several, technically literate, people who do that and have all Apple stuff in their home and they know it all interfaces (until Apple change their interface) and what its depreciation value is and that they can get all the accessories they want for them. It's not status for them, just brand loyalty. I felt the same way for a very short time about the Blackberry 10 range. :(

    It's probably just a harder sell to people who haven't had Apple before and are comparing with, as a perfect Chinese example, Xiaomi for 1/10th the cost but with probably 85% of the features + better battery life.

    1. overunder Bronze badge

      "It's probably just a harder sell to people who haven't had Apple before..."

      I think you're right, but do factor in those of us that bought Apple to birth Apple when it was the serious choice for home because it was the ONLY serious choice that "just worked' (yeh there was the many modular kits too back then, but ignore those as I "prove" a point :-P). Roll the clock up 30+ years and now anything can "just work".

      In the end, it is only niche companies that offer "superior" stuff at higher prices, even if it really is superior (ie. BetaMax or... 8-Track ;-P) it's still niche.

  8. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    "but denied its models were overpriced." - huh?

    1. eldakka Silver badge

      Haha good point.

      If the potential customers aren't buying them at $X, then, by economic definition, they are overpriced. The business needs to reduce the price to a point where customers are buying them, even if the seller thinks they are more valuable than that final selling price.

      1. VikiAi Silver badge
        Meh

        That sounds like market forces

        you capitalist swine.

        Ironically, the above sentiment is directed at the big multinational corps. not China, which is far more embracing of market-driven economics these days than the former seems to be!

  9. DougS Silver badge

    The "slashed" prices

    Are still about 25% higher than they are in the US, after currency adjustment.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: The "slashed" prices

      Are still about 25% higher than they are in the US, after currency adjustment.

      VAT accounts for most of that. Then a bit of margin for currency fluctuation.

  10. Happy_Jack

    The fact is there are other Chinese-built phones that are much better value than iPhones.

  11. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
    FAIL

    but denied its models were overpriced.

    but denied its models were overpriced.

    If the models weren't overpriced then why increase the trade-in values?

  12. 0laf Silver badge

    I had an Iphone SE. Functionally it was totally fine other than I found the screen and on screen keyboard too small for my ham sized hands. I wasn't bought into the ecosystem most of my stuff being on MS products from my previous WinPho. When I looked to change to a new phone I would have considered an iPhone since I like its compatibility with other things but the price was too high. I don't like Android but held my nose and bought a Huawei P20 Pro. I imported it from Italy and saved about £250 over the UK price at that time.

    My other half also used an iPhone SE. She wanted a new phone witha better camera. She was/is heavly bought into Apple services. She wanted a P20 Pro the same as me for the camera but instead has just dropped £1k on an iPhone XS. For her it was more important to remain part of that ecosystem.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "but denied its models were overpriced". They really have lost touch with reality.

    I replaced my phone just before Christmas with a Nokia 6.1. Good build quality, it does everything I need it to and it cost me £180. And Apple have nothing under £500....

  14. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Of course the Chinese people don't want iPhones. They're worried about the pressure the Government has placed on Apple to include back doors that permit spying.

    Sorry, I didn't make that clear enough. They're worried about the pressure the American Government has placed on Apple to include back doors that permit spying.

  15. martinusher Silver badge

    Don't underestimate national identity

    Apple products are consumer products closely associated with the US; owning one in China was a status symbol which is why they sold well despite being significantly more expensive than local product. (....ignore the fact that they are effectively a local product for the moment)

    Then the US government turns around and attacks China economically and even starts military saber rattling. It tries to quarantine Chinese developed products, it threatens countries that want to join with the Chinese 'Belt and Road' initiative and generally becomes very hostile to the Chinese. So what are self respecting -- and nationalist -- Chinese to do? They'll turn their back on the symbol of America. Apple becomes collateral damage in Trump's trade war.

    On youTube you can find films from the ww2 era describing the efforts the Chinese people went to in order to push back the Japanese. One film describes making an airbase for American B-29 planes -- 70,000 people using nothing more sophisticated than hand tools built an airbase in a matter of weeks. The typical Chinese is probably no different from you and I in that they want their version of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" but if you threaten them, especially for no reason, then you shouldn't be surprised if they close ranks.

    Trump is a political neophyte that's both very naive and very badly advised. He's got us into a trade war that we can't win. The Chinese may have their own reasons for letting us back off without losing too much face but that's about the best outcome we can expect.

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