An Epic Fail: Only 5 iPhones Sold in Two Weeks by China's Largest E-Tailer
December 3, 2009 1:45 PM
comment(s) - last by
China Unicom's e-commerce partner Taobao.com has only been able to sell 5 iPhones since launch.
(Source: China Unicom)
To say that the iPhone is a flop in China is to put it mildly
China is arguably the world's biggest potential electronics market. If you can make a product that's a big hit with Chinese consumers it's almost as big a deal as a hit product in the U.S. -- and China's buying power is expected to only grow even more in the near future. Thus optimism was high when the
iPhone finally launched in China
However, in the time since, the iPhone has proved an epic flop in China even as Chinese telecoms try to defend their weak sales. China Unicom, the phone's carrier
only managed to sell 5,000 handsets
in the phone's first few days, far less than at equivalent launches in the U.S., UK, France, and Germany. While the telecom says it is satisfied with the phone's sales performance, the numbers are disappointing for a phone that has burned up international sales charts.
One major problem is price. The phone is available in China for 6,999 yuan, or $1,024 without a contract, but can be purchased much cheaper in Hong Kong's so-called "grey market". The grey market cost in Hong Kong is approximately $800. Sales were also hindered by the
exclusion of Wi-Fi from the phone
, following China's ban on the standard, which it was trying to replace with its own standard. Since May China has begun reallowing Wi-Fi, but new Wi-Fi-ready models still aren't available yet in China.
The epic failure of the phone in terms of sales is epitomized by the
sales figures just released
by Taobao.com, the nation's leading e-tailer and only firm besides China Unicom authorized to sell iPhones inside China. According to
IDG News Service
, since the phone launched on the site on November 22, only two 8 GB models were sold, three 16 GB, and no 32 GB models. That's right -- in an increasingly prosperous and tech-hungry nation of over 1 billion, the country's largest E-Tailer has only been able to sell
In its report
says that difficulties with the app store may also be partially to blame for the phone's dismal sales. Explains the report, "Credit cards are increasingly common in China, but their holders rarely use them to make small payments via mobile phone, local consultancy Analysys International said in a research note. Credit card penetration also remains low among young people of the sort that would like the App Store, it said. Many Chinese make payments via mobile phone but do so with prepaid cards sold by local carriers. The App Store will need to add new payment options and more localized content to win more users in China."
China Unicom still hasn't given up on the struggling phone. The company just launched 3G services last month and currently has around 1 million total subscribers. The company hopes that the iPhone will help drive over
1 million new subscribers per month
to the next-generation network service. Currently the company has over 150 million subscribers on its older networks. The company is aiming for 10 percent of its 3G subscriptions to be iPhones by three years from now.
In South Korea the iPhone enjoyed a much more enthusiastic launch last week with 60,000 online orders. That number looks especially pretty when compared to the Chinese total of 5 orders.
Earlier this year, before the launch of the phone, the iPhone made headlines in China for a far different reason. An employee at Foxconn, a hardware partner of Apple's, reportedly was
beaten and tormented
by company security officers after loosing a prototype of a next-generation iPhone. After the ordeal the employee committed suicide. The company has since
paid the family of the victim $52,000
and dismissed several employees.
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RE: Maybe because...
12/4/2009 12:34:23 AM
No they won't, cause if you haven't noticed pretty much every phone that doesn't have a subsidy through the cell phones providers has very poor sales. If the cell phone providers don't pick it up then it pretty much has no chance of gaining traction no matter how much better it is.
RE: Maybe because...
12/4/2009 2:02:51 AM
I don't know about China but in India, no operator provides any subsidy for any phone. That doesn't stop sell of high end phones like Nokia N97 or the likes. Yet somehow the iPhone sales are pretty low.
I think it's because the brand "Apple" is not as well known or well positioned here as in the case of the US and lets face it, it's the status symbol of brand Apple that sales iPhones in such large volume.
RE: Maybe because...
12/4/2009 4:46:10 AM
Why a 1000$ Iphone when you can a have a dual SIM, WIFI, BT, TV, Aphone, HIphone, Noklas and alike.
I have an Aphone and im perfectly happy. Yes, i know it is a knockoff of a clone. But pretty decent for the price none the less.
"This is about the Internet. Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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