The biggest public company and the biggest country are at loggerheads over the price of a phone.
Apple’s new plastic-backed iPhone 5C will sell for 4 488 yuan (R7 270) in China, almost $200 (R2 000) more than the US retail price of $549 and only 800 yuan less than its top-of-the-line sibling, the 5S.
The pricing of what was expected to be a cheap model aimed at growth markets such as China and India has stumped investors and Apple aficionados in China, a country of 1.4 billion people and the largest smartphone market.
Apple, whose market capitalisation of $449 billion makes it the most valuable publicly traded company, unveiled the two new handsets at an event at the company’s headquarters in California on Tuesday.
For the first time, it held a launch event in Beijing hours later yesterday, a move seen as underscoring the importance of the Chinese market.
Apple releases generate a lot of buzz, but the 5C’s reception in China, where fans can queue for days for new products, was lukewarm at best.
“The iPhone 5C is so expensive. Originally, I absolutely planned to buy it, now the price makes me uncomfortable. Isn’t it just an iPhone 5 with a plastic back?” said Sina Weibo user Shangzhiruixin.
The phrase “iPhone 5S” was the most popular search term on Sina Weibo, China’s most widely used microblogging service, yesterday, while “iPhone 5C” did not appear on the top searches list.
Other users believe that the 5C makes sense in a competitive market, where the cheaper the handsets the more bitter the fight for dominance.
Apple’s share of the Chinese smartphone market slid to 5 percent in the second quarter, according to Canalys, trailing Samsung as well as ZTE, Lenovo, Huawei and Xiaomi. – Reuters