Apple losing fans in China on its indifference

Windows and Samsung are definitely eroding Apple's popularity in the world's largest smartphone market as the latter, which is making tons of profits in the territory, is still treating China like a lower-end market.
Written by Cyrus Lee, Contributor

I will make a confession first. Every day over the past month, I've tried to register for a new iPhone 5--for my personal use--in Hong Kong's online Apple Store but never succeeded. Apple never disclosed to the public how it selects lucky folks to purchase up to two sets of mobile phones, who could immediately resell it to the black market and make some $200 per set.

I am telling you this to let you know that I am not painting a bleak picture of Apple in China on my poor luck. In fact, I heard only some 30 applications out of 1,000 will be chosen every day. On the contrary, I am luckier than my compatriots in China who do not even get a chance to feel lucky as the new iPhone is not yet launched in the country, even after the smartphone has gone public for almost two months.

If the launch of iPhone 4S in China could be viewed as an example, then Chinese people may still need to wait a while more for the iPhone 5. The iPhone 4S, which was launched in late-October 2011 in the United States, went on sale officially in China January 2012--the sixth or seventh wave of launch dates in the world--together with countries including Jamaica, Kenya and Madagascar.

I am not going to put up all the complaints of Chinese Apple fans here because the database of ZDNet is not big enough. But there is one common thread within these complaints: "Apple, we are fascinated about you and spending tons of money on you, but you are not treating us seriously at all."

And I recalled in 2011, Cook had said that China is Apple's second-largest market outside of the U.S., which makes it key to its financial performance. I wonder if this is the way Cook is paying back its fans in China.

Now, let's see how's Apple's competitors are doing in China.

"I am extending my thanks to [Chinese local retailer] Suning, Windows as well as the global timezone," Chen Shi, a Chinese consumers in Beijing, said at 0:00 on Oct. 26th, after he became the first person to purchase Microsoft Surface in the world, according to a local Chinese report.

I believe most Chinese people, including me, will never expect something like this from Apple. But could you please let us have your product earlier? Or even if it is to provide a chance for us to purchase the iPhone through the lottery system like that in Hong Kong?

After Apple increased the retail prices of iPhone 5 about 10 percent in Hong Kong, we could also forecast the same pricing strategy for the handset in China--yes, this is what we Chinese expect from Apple.

Samsung, probably the only real rival in the mobile phone market against Apple, releases all kinds of products in China on a timely manner, with huge investment in advertisements, as well as a more affordable pricing on its various lines of handsets, particularly the high-end products including Galaxy S3 and Note that target the same consumer group in China.

I need not post any Samsung's sales data in China here because I am seeing more and more young Chinese people today using Galaxy S3 or Note 2. iPhone is still popularly seen, but people are mostly using iPhone 4 and 4S. Many of us, including me, are talking about changing for another brand due to the fatigue of seeing the same look and functions.

And yes, we also hate Apple's warranty policies. Consumer associations in China are still fighting with Apple over its overbearing clauses, which apparently do not comply with the rules in China. The fight goes on until today without a concrete outcome. We may still wait and see the results.

Are Apple's products outperforming its peers? Maybe in the past, but not those days since the legend is gone. Do we still need stick around for products from a company that has showed indifference to our market with only some pretty words?

I believe many of Chinese will have second thoughts these days.

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