Can CEO Tim Cook Turn Apple’s Unpopularity in China Around?

While in many parts of the world, people are more than happy to bag themselves an iPhone, the majority of people in China will do anything to avoid owning one. It’s not because of any great boycott that’s taking place; it’s simply because the iPhone fails to capture the imagine of the Chinese market.

Apple isn’t anywhere near the top sellers in China when it comes to smartphones with many people preferring to own an Oppo, Vivo, or Huawei instead. These three brands alone account for just under half the new smartphones imported into the country. Apple, on the other hand, comes in fourth, but with only a measly 9.6 percent of sales. Things haven’t always been this bad in China for the company. It was, in fact, the favorite smartphone in China for five years.  So what changed?

Well, Duan Yongping, co-founder of Oppo and Vivo believes that the reason Apple says has failed dramatically over the past few years because the company fails to cater for the foreign market and that “they’re maybe too stubborn sometimes.” What Yonping is referring to is the way in which the company focuses on a small product range with a ‘one size fits all’ attitude, regardless of the country you live in.

Chinese consumers are turning to alternatives like Oppo’s F1 Plus. It operates very similar to that of an iPhone and has most of the looks too, and is priced at a moderate $430 opposed to $770 for the cheapest iPhone 7 Plus. It may not be quite as polished as Apple’s product, but at nearly half the price, if it works the same, who cares?!

Apple CEO, Tim Cook, recognizes the company’s lacking presence in China right now and has announced a plan. Although there’s no set market-share goal in place for China, the plans are to invest over $500 million in research to turn sales in the country around.  This will include opening two new R & D centers in Shanghai and Suzhou. So, now, only time will tell if Cook’s plan work and Apple once again becomes the leader in the Chinese smartphone industry.

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