Tom Doctoroff
Tom Doctoroff

Rumors say that Apple has been able to struck a deal with China’s largest telecom provider China Mobile to sell iPhone, cheaper than elsewhere in the world. Marketing guru Tom Doctoroff explains in NPR why selling the iPhone cheap in China is a bad idea.


The one thing Apple has going for it in China is cachet. And that’s why Tom Doctoroff, Asia Pacific CEO of ad agency JWT thinks offering an inexpensive iPhone to the Chinese is a very bad idea.

“One of the golden rules of marketing in China is that anything displayed in public can command a huge price premium,” says Doctoroff. “And the reason for that is status is a primary driver here, much, much more so than in the West. So when you offer an inexpensive iPhone, it immediately signals that this isn’t so elite anymore.”

Buzz for the iPhone has been wearing off here. A report from global analyst Canalys shows that in the last quarter, the iPhone fell from fifth to seventh most popular smartphone in China. It was overtaken by the Chinese firm Xiaomi, which just released a new affordable phone that’s generating a lot of hype.

More in NPR

Tom Doctoroff is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form. 

China Weekly Hangout

China’s new visa system is on the agenda of the China Weekly Hangout coming Thursday 12 September. The system kicked in on September 1, and many questions have already been raised. In the hangout we try to answer questions, as far as possible in such an early phase. Read here our initial announcement or register here at our event page. 

What do Chinese tourists want? – China Weekly Hangout asked on June 20. Roy Graff of ChinaContact joins us to discuss the increasingly diversifying market of Chinese tourists. And yes, there is no longer one answer for basic questions. Moderation by Fons Tuinstra of the China Speakers Bureau.


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