Apple‘s recent success in China might have gained it a lot of admirers, and Apple even promised to focused more on the country during last week’s WWDC conference. But the company could have done much better and could have turned China into its largest market, retail analyst Shaun Rein tells in the Pandodaily.
“Even though Apple quadrupled sales in China and it’s their second largest market, they only have five Apple stores in the country,” Rein told me over Vietnamese food in an upscale shopping mall. “We think the market can sustain about 100, and they have 300 globally. So they’re not taking what I call a China-first strategy.” This is, after all, a country of 1.3 billion people and 1.4 million US-dollar millionaires.
While iOS voice-assistant Siri is soon to be available in Mandarin, it’s still not physically in the country, Rein points out. The company releases products in China half a year after they’re available in Hong Kong, which is just over the border, and sales of Android-powered handsets are growing faster than Apple in the smartphone market…
“Apple needs to move a lot faster, and because they’re moving so slow, you’re getting the emergence of Samsung at the high end, and then Xiaomi at the low end, which is just absolutely booming, and they’re positioning at a great price-point for consumers,” says Rein. Chinese consumers love the Xiaomi phones in particular. The high-spec and homegrown smartphones not only have buyers, but also fans, and they sell for as much as $470 per device cheaper than the iPhone. Last week, the company announced that it had sold 3 million devices in just two years of existence and with only one model (although the company did release a second model recently).
Is Apple, then, at risk of getting left behind? “If they don’t make massive changes, in two or three years they could run into serious challenges,” says Rein. “Three years ago, the iPhone was far superior to any other handset in the marketplace. Now it’s not.”