Apple launches payment plan for mainland buyers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 4:19am

Apple has begun letting users of its mainland Chinese website pay in instalments as the company looks for ways to make iPhones and MacBook laptops more affordable in the world's largest computer and mobile-phone market.

Payments can be made over a two-year period for purchases of 300 yuan (HK$371) or more, up to a limit of 30,000 yuan, Apple said on its website. The instalment plans require a credit card from China Merchants Bank.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said last week that China will overtake the US to become its largest market, as he visited for the second time in less than 10 months. The iPhone 5, released in China last month, is priced at 5,288 yuan on Apple's China site, equal to about six weeks' pay for the average urban worker.

Apple dropped to sixth place in China's smartphone market in the third quarter, from fourth in the prior three-month period, as local producers lured buyers with smartphones costing less than 1,000 yuan each, researcher IDC said last month.

Urban workers in China had average monthly pay of about 3,585 yuan in the first nine months of last year, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics.

Apple will let buyers split payments into three, six, 12, 18 or 24 instalments, according to its website. Up to January 23, choosing 12 or fewer instalments carries no interest. Interest of 6.5 per cent will be charged for 18 instalments, and 8.5 per cent for 24 instalments.

An Apple spokeswoman in Beijing did not immediately return calls for comment.