Business / Technology

Some greet arrival of iPhone 7 with a shrug

By Ma Si (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-09 08:07

Some greet arrival of iPhone 7 with a shrug

The Apple iPhone7 and AirPods are displayed during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California, US, September 7, 2016.  [Photo/Agencies]

Wang Wanli, a 26-year-old sales manager in Beijing, has been thinking about upgrading his iPhone 6, which he bought two years ago. To his disappointment, however, Apple's latest product rollout on Thursday morning fell short of his expectations.

He said he had found no big improvement on the iPhone 7, which Apple is banking on to regain the market share in China that it is losing to domestic players.

For example, he is comfortable with Apple's operating system, but he said he thought "the iPhone 7 does not look as cool as the Lenovo Moto Z modular handset".

Wang is not alone. As Chinese smartphone vendors such as Huawei and Oppo scramble to offer cheaper alternatives with competitive functions, experts say local consumers are less willing to wait in long lines for a new iPhone.

The iPhone 7 will be available in China on Sept 16, although online ordering begins on Friday. Jin Di, research manager at International Data Corp China, said iPhone 7's routine upgrades on cameras and processors show that hard-ware is no longer Apple's edge.

"The sales of iPhone 7 will be worse than the iPhone 6, which once took China by storm," Jin said.

The declining popularity of iPhones highlights challenges that Apple is facing in China, which was once the company's biggest growth engine but has recently become a source of disappointment.

In the quarter ended in June, Apple saw a 33 percent drop in sales in China, marking its highest decline in all regions, while domestic brands Huawei and Oppo saw surges in shipments of 15 per-cent and 124 percent, respectively.

Huawei said earlier this month that it had sold 4.5 million units of P9 by July, its premium-end smartphone that includes dual cameras and sells for 3,688 yuan ($550). In comparison, the iPhone 7 Plus with similar features starts at 6,388 yuan.

"It will be hard for Apple to regain the crown in China with the iPhone 7 series, given the declining enthusiasm among consumers," said Nicole Peng, research director at Shanghai-based consultancy Canalys.

Canalys forecasts that Apple will see a 12 percent year-on-year decline in smartphone shipments to China this year.

According to Peng, Apple still dominates the above-3,000 yuan handset market, where most consumers remain loyal to the brand.

"But that consumer group is growing very, very slowly. And Apple's growth, in fact, needs to be driven by potential consumers who usually buy smartphones priced from 2,000 yuan to 3,000 yuan. Now, however, such potential consumers have all chosen local vendors," Peng added.

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