China Is Not Impressed With The iPhone 5c

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Over and over again over, most of the pre-launch chatter about the iPhone 5c was that this was Apple’s “budget” iPhone, meant to help Cupertino squeeze into the mid-range, and especially penetrate the emerging market in countries like China by being released at a price around $349.

So imagine China’s surprise when it turned out that the iPhone 5c wasn’t meant to be any more of a budget iPhone than the year-old iPhones Apple has sold before. In fact, in China, an iPhone 5c will cost, in dollars, more than what an iPhone 5s would cost an American unsubsididized. And the Chinese are underwhelmed, to say the least.

In China, when bought without a contract, the iPhone 5c will cost $4488 yuan, or $728.

“Its much more expensive than what the previous information suggested, a big difference from what I thought,” said 27-year-old Wang Qian, speaking to Macworld. “All they’ve mainly done is provided more colors and raised the phone’s performance.”

IDC analyst Teck Zhung Wong agrees. “I think Apple could have landed a strong punch if they had priced it at $350 to $450, but they decided to hold back,” Wong said. “It seems to me like a lost opportunity.”

The price of the iPhone 5c in China seems particularly out-of-whack with how much comparative phones in the emerging market. Consider, for example, Xiaomi’s newest handset, the Tegra 4-powered Mi-3, which only costs 1,999 yuan. That’s about $326 American, about what people expected the iPhone 5c to cost.

In fact, in China, the only iPhone that competes with the Mi-3 on price is the 8GB iPhone 4, and even that, a three year phone, costs 2,588 yuan… almost $100 more than the Mi-3. Apple’s going to have a hard time competing in China on price.

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  • Zod Buster

    Arrogance and Elitism have a price…

  • DrM47145

    Even in the US, the price difference does not seem to justify getting an unsubsidized iPhone 5C. versus a 5S.
    I think almost everybody agrees they should have made a much more significant price reduction. Had they done so, they would have really rocked the boat for the competition…

  • SonsofAres

    Arrogance and Elitism have a price…

    So does endlessly patting yourself on the back. (Hint, you might break your arm).

  • GEOKLV

    Good afternoon. As much true respect I have for this OEM and his dedication to the concept (and proof) of TOTAL quality and as much fascination I hold about the ecosystem and the intuition defined, I believe that Apple have fouled up their commercial plan, overall. Greed is truly a sin. And this year, yesterday in fact, Apple have earned themselves a “red card” (as we say in soccer) in the minds and hearts of millions of current or potential consumers. And this is a shame.

  • MrsCleaver

    “China Is Not Impressed With The iPhone 5C”

    Oh dear. Wouldn’t want China to be unimpressed! We need to get busy to earn the respect of their advanced society in order to replicate their unbelievably successful economy.

  • MrsCleaver

    Good afternoon. As much true respect I have for this OEM and his dedication to the concept (and proof) of TOTAL quality and as much fascination I hold about the ecosystem and the intuition defined, I believe that Apple have fouled up their commercial plan, overall. Greed is truly a sin. And this year, yesterday in fact, Apple have earned themselves a “red card” (as we say in soccer) in the minds and hearts of millions of current or potential consumers. And this is a shame.

    This is a very silly post, GEOKLV. It makes little or no sense. Apple, like any company, looks for ways to leverage itself into new markets, in the best ways it can. Not every decision will be perfect, and surely there will be little agreement about those decisions among detractors or even fans. But to condemn Apple with your so-called “red card” is ridiculous.

  • DinaMoHum

    Could it be that they are not able to produce enough phones? With 700 Million subscribers it looks like a very large market. If Apple can only produce 4 or 5 Million 5c per month, then even filling orders for 5% market share would take 9 months to deliver. They could not price it too low as they might get a 2 year backlog of orders, and that would not make the company look very good.

  • rklaproth

    The magic price is $0 with a contract and $350 without one…

  • GEOKLV

    @MrsCleaver: well, obviously your approach vs my approach in regard to the ways an enterprise attempts to “leverage itself” are way different . In the meantime, if you are able, try to fully deduce whatever you read and then maybe everything will make sense to you; unless your ability to understand has been chopped off… Mrs “Cleaver”…

  • Petr

    “Apple’s going to have a hard time competing in China on price.” – Apple ever competed on price ?

  • GEOKLV

    Ought they not? In the sense that they have a vast margin? They can still profit big and in parallel provide a reasonable degree of understanding for their consumers (be it a pretext, if they do not really believe in the importance). €100 as a nominal amount may not really matter for an Apple Top Manager but it matters to each and every consumer. Such a decrease (maybe even more) would not underrate the Apple premium.

  • Karolis Makrickas

    I don’t know how somebody was expecting cheeper iPhone from Apple. Apple is a luxury brand. So expect cheep iPhone from Apple, it’s like to expect that Ferrari would make cheeper Ferrari for people, who don’t earn a lot of money.

  • GEOKLV

    It is one thing to be consistent when it comes to define the honest concept of a listed price and another thing not to adoptthe will and the “generosity” for more affordable (not cheap) pricing for your ever growing and ever remaining loyal clientele, even more when you know that your products will not suffer from premium loss, neither shall you lose profit? I mean honestly now, how can this not be mutually honest?

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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