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Netizens say Apple’s China woes are because iPhones are too expensive

Apple admits weak sales in China and revises revenue forecast for the first time

This article originally appeared on ABACUS
For the first time in almost two decades, Apple lowered its revenue outlook, attributing it to the weaker-than-expected sales in China.

Chinese netizens know exactly what to blame: The ever-increasing price of iPhones.

Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a letter to investors and spoke to CNBC, where he cited the economic slowdown in China as the primary reason behind the revenue decline. He also said the US-China trade war has greatly affected sales in the country.
Tim Cook has been making frequent trips to China, but it doesn’t seem like it’s enough. (Picture: Xinhua)

Netizens were far more blunt.

“Is it really because of the slowed economic growth? Have you looked at your own products lately?” one of the top Weibo comments said. “Without any major technological breakthrough, iPhone prices have only gone up significantly. You think we are dumb?”

How Weibo became China’s most popular blogging platform

Another Weibo user wrote, “Let me translate what this means: There aren’t as many idiots as we once thought. Turns out, people don’t buy phones that cost more than US$1,400.”

The price of iPhones has gone up tremendously over the years. While the price of an iPhone 5 began at US$650 in 2012, an iPhone XS Max now costs US$1099 -- at a minimum.

However, some -- by some I mean Warren Buffett -- believe that the iPhones actually “enormously undervalued”. Buffet, an investor in Apple, said last year a thousand-dollar iPhone is more indispensable than a million-dollar plane. (Which I suppose is easy to say when you’re worth US$80 billion.)
In recent years, Apple’s market share in China has been challenged by many rising Chinese Android brands. According to Counterpoint, the top five phone-makers in the third quarter of 2018 were all domestic Android brands.
Huawei, which owns Honor, and BBK Electronics, which owns both Oppo and Vivo, are the two juggernauts in terms of market share.

Besides the unfavorable economic environment, Apple also attributed the weaker-than-expected iPhone demand to the fact that more people are replacing their batteries instead of buying new ones. Last year, Apple reduced its $79 battery replacement fee to $29 after the company was criticised for slowing down old iPhones with dying batteries.

A Chinese Weibo user who appreciates the durability of iPhones suggested that might be another reason for declining sales.

“I used my iPhone 4S for three years, then iPhone 6 for three years and now iPhone X for a year,” she said, “And here’s the shocker, I am actually still using all three of them as we speak.”

iPhone boycotts are a nationalist sport in China… just not a very successful one

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.