It was reported last week that the latest Apple iPad model launch was met with a lukewarm reception from the Chinese buying public.
Whereas In the UK we have witnessed near mass hysteria, with some people (obviously with too much time on their hands) camping outside Apple shops to be the first to get their hands on the latest iPad, in China it appears they are becoming a little Apple apathetic.
China’s 1.4 billion consumers are beginning to grow weary of Apple’s expensive tablet and are starting to turn to lower-cost alternatives driven by a slowing Chinese economy.
You couldn’t imagine it happening in this country, but over in the Far East, Apple have had to slash prices of the new iPad by 30% in the first week to try and drum up some interest.
Paradoxically, sales of the iPhone have doubled year on year in China. But iPad sales are being eroded in China and other emerging markets from the likes of Samsung and from much lower cost tablet alternatives from the likes of Toshiba and Huawei.
Investors also fear that Apple’s magic is wearing off in China, it’s second largest market after the US, with revenue in the three months to June 30 in Greater China (China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) down 28% at £3.6bn compared with the preceding quarter.
“It is very clear that Android is hoovering up market share in emerging markets,” says Benedict Evans of Enders Analysis.
It’s a similar story over in India, the 2nd highest populated country on the planet, where it is the iPhone that has struggled to make any headway and currently has a pitiful 2.4% market share. Compare that to the US market where as many as half of all smartphones sold are iPhones.
The woeful market share of the iPhone could down to the fact that the people of India have a choice of over 125 Android based phones, many of which are available at just £60, whereas the iPhone will cost them four times as much.
So it would appear that in India’s price-sensitive markets, iPhones remain either the reserve of the wealthy or are relegated to the second-hand or black market.
Nokia are still king of the more budget conscious territories and in 2011 they had 46% of the Indian market. But this year, India is going Smartphone crazy and Android based phones are set to overtake Nokia, with more and more of India’s 900m mobile phone users opting to access the internet via a mobile device than a PC.
Back in the UK and experts predict that the UK tablet market is forecasted to grow year on year by 32% until 2016 (Research and Markets January 2012). And whilst this is fantastic news for Apple, this predicted growth will only see further product saturation as myriad manufacturers jump on the tablet bandwagon.
And whilst the usual hype surrounds the latest manifestation of the iPhone (slimmer, quicker, sexier, etc etc) the majority of the focus on the launch of the latest model surrounds the pin connector on the bottom of the handset.
With millions of people having docking stations that use the existing 30 pin connector, the rumoured decision from Apple to switch from a connector that has been in existence for over a decade to a new 18 pin version, hasn’t been met positively, to put it bluntly.
Apple say the change to an 18 pin connector is to allow for the headphones socket to be moved from the top of the iPhone to the bottom.
And whilst Apple will make an adaptor so that the new connector fits existing docks, many will argue, and quite rightly, that this will spoil the aesthetics of all those expensive iDocks that people own.
So although Apple have struggled in certain parts of the planet to make an impact, 26 million iPhones and 16 million iPads sold in Q3 of 2012 and net profits of over £5bn, suggest that it could be a few years before the competition get close to pricking that Apple bubble.
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