When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

China

In Face Of New Rivals, Apple Loses Its Shine In China

Chinese domestic brands like Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi are undercutting the American giant, which aims ever more upmarket.

iPad smile in Beijing
iPad smile in Beijing
Fan Xin

BEIJING — After weeks of anticipation by eager fans, Apple finally launched the iPhone 8 and iPhone X on Sept. 12, to mark the smartphone's 10th anniversary.

The iPhone X not only sports a new look and an innovative full screen, it also features Face ID authentication, an OLED screen, enhanced performance for the CPU and other hardware and extended battery capacity. But, priced in China at a record high of 8,388 yuan, or nearly $1,300, a recent Reuters report questioned whether Chinese fans could even afford it.

Targeting a high-end market, iPhone has always been much more expensive than other brands. And as always, being the first to introduce a disruptive innovation in the traditional mobile phone market has been a secret of its success.

But Apple's momentum as an innovation leader is diminishing, as is its market share in China. With a shortage of new features, the iPhone 7 was the worst-selling model in China in Apple's history. According to the company's financial report released in August, Apple's Greater China turnover has fallen 10%, making it the sixth consecutive quarter of sliding sales.

Meanwhile, domestic brands like Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi, with their latecomer's advantage, good-value prices and accurate grasp of segmented markets, are overwhelming their American rival in China.

Apple is seen as lagging in research and development.

The situation recalls China's home appliance industry in the 1980s and "90s. Before the manufacturing boom of televisions, washing machines and refrigerators, Chinese consumers were forced to pay high prices for imported goods. But today Chinese brands such as Haier and Hisense have steadily improved, driving down the price of imported goods; they are also taking over markets in developed countries and are acquiring some existing brands overseas.

Apple is also seen as lagging in research and development. For example, Huawei invested $9.1 billion in 2015 and $11 billion in 2016 on R&D, or 15% and 14.65% of its operating revenue respectively, while Apple in 2016 spent $10 billion in R&D, or only 4.6% of its operating revenue.

Statistics from international firms like IDC, SA and Counterpoint show that in 2016, Huawei was in the third place globally, with about 10% of the 1.47 billion mobile handsets sold worldwide. In the second quarter of this year, Huawei was at the top of the Chinese market, with a 21% share, while Apple was in fifth place with a 7.1% share.

After years at the top, Apple has become arrogant. This is best illustrated by the 30% "Apple tax," through which the American technology giant can take nearly one-third of "tips' that digital content creators like live streamers and online celebrities are paid by their fans through social media apps. The tipping function has become a booming economy among China's smartphone users and Apple's move has provoked an outcry.

Also, Apple's target market is young: In 2014, 77% of iPhone users were aged 15 to 35. But China's population is aging and the population of over 60s is growing. In 2015, China had about a billion people aged 15 to 64, but this number is expected to drop to 990 million by 2020. With this trend in mind, Chinese manufacturers are altering their designs to appeal to a more mature public. Meanwhile, Apple, with its youthful designs, is at a disadvantage in China.

Apple's success and almost 10 years of monopoly over the smartphone industry was based on its subversive designs. But as it gradually loses its advantage, the American giant will clearly need to endure the test of a Chinese market packed with alternative, less expensive products.

To turn the tide and win back its fading glory in China, Apple may need another Steve Jobs.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

Jehovah's Witnesses Translate The Bible In Indigenous Language — Is This Colonialism?

The Jehovah's Witnesses in Chile have launched a Bible version translated into the native Mapudungun language, evidently indifferent to the concerns of a nation striving to save its identity from the Western cultural juggernaut.

A Mapuche family awaits for Chilean President Gabriel Boric to arrive at the traditional Te Deum in the Cathedral of Santiago, on Chile's Independence Day.

Claudia Andrade

NEUQUÉN — The Bible can now be read in Mapuzugun, the language of the Mapuche, an ancestral nation living across Chile and Argentina. It took the Chilean branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a latter-day Protestant church often associated with door-to-door proselytizing and cold calling, three years to translate it into "21st-century Mapuzugun".

The church's Mapuche members in Chile welcomed the book when it was launched in Santiago last June, but some of their brethren see it rather as a cultural imposition. The Mapuche were historically a fighting nation, and fiercely resisted both the Spanish conquerors and subsequent waves of European settlers. They are still fighting for land rights in Chile.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ