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Apple's new iPhone 5C struggles to satisfy in China, but bright spots remain

Michael Kan | Sept. 12, 2013
Some Chinese are complaining about the phone's high price

The high expectations surrounding Tuesday's iPhone announcement may have led to some disappointment among consumers in China. But the company is clearly playing to its strengths, and focused on sales in China's high-end market, rather than growing market share, said Nicole Peng, an analyst with research firm Canalys.

"If Apple really wants to make a difference in China and make a big impact, they will need to take bigger risks, and move faster," she said, pointing to its main rival Samsung. The company currently reigns as China's largest smartphone vendor, and has been quick to slash prices and localize products in order to boost sales.

But one major bright spot for Apple is that its finally bringing its iPhones to China on the same day they launch in the U.S. In previous product releases, Apple's Chinese customers have been forced to wait weeks to months before the devices officially went on sale in the country, potentially disrupting demand.

Apple may also be close to striking a deal with China Mobile to offers its iPhone on the carrier's network, after years of negotiations. Late last month, Chinese regulators approved four iPhone devices that are compatible with the carrier's 3G and upcoming 4G networks.

The two companies have yet to comment on a imminent deal. But a partnership would finally give Apple better access to China Mobile's 740 million customers with an iPhone that can use the carrier's high-speed networks.

While Apple's iPhone 5C might have its critics, some like 20-year-old Deng Jiarui believe consumers in China will still buy the device.

Deng himself was dissatisfied with the device's high price, but said, "People will still buy it, because Apple iPhone users all know that the iOS system has a much smoother user experience than Android."

In the U.S. Apple's iPhone 5C starts at $549 when bought without a contract. Apple has said its products are typically are priced in higher in China due to currency valuation and government taxes.

 

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