Apple

The $1,000 iPhone — And The Difficulties It Faces Abroad

The end is here.

The end of the wait for the new iPhone, that is — though recent weather might incline readers to think we meant something else.

Today Apple will give the world its first glance at the “iPhone 8” (no word yet on if this is actually what they are going to be calling it) — and by all accounts, it will be a doozy.

Of course, for $1,000 a shot — the new phone’s rumored price tag — one might argue it had better be an impressive phone, since it it has to prove it’s $200 worth of superior to the $800 top-end iPhone 7 Plus.

The good news for Apple: that extra $200 likely won’t be a deal breaker in the U.S. market, as Apple fanboys and girls tend to take a very in-for-a-penny, in-for-a-pound attitude.  But in China, where Apple has been working double time to regain lost traction, that high iPhone price tag might do some real damage to sales a— $1,000 is over two months salary for the average Chinese worker.

And, note analysts, an iPhone 8 that doesn’t sell in China would be something of a lost opportunity, since 8 is widely considered to be an auspicious and lucky number in China.

And Apple needs the luck — once the most beloved smartphone in China, these days the iPhone is in fifth position behind offerings from local rivals Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi Inc [XTC.UL].

Greater China, which for Apple includes Taiwan and Hong Kong, accounted for roughly 18 percent of iPhone sales in the quarter ending in July, making it the company’s top market after the United States and Europe. Yet those sales have been declining steadily and are down 10 percent from a year earlier, in contrast with growth in all other regions..

“I’ll wait for a drop in price, it’s too expensive,” said Angie Chen, 23, a project manager in Nanjing and iPhone 6 owner.

Chen said she might wait for the new phone’s successor, when prices will fall. “It’s a nice number to hear, but there’s no rush.”

Eight is the luckiest number in China because it sounds similar to the phrase meaning “to get rich”.

“Apple really needs to launch a very innovative product this time around,” said Mo Jia, Shanghai-based analyst at Canalys.

Thus far, though, the buzz in China seems to be lacking. Mentions of “iPhone 8” on popular Chinese social media platform Weibo were running slightly ahead of the similar period before the iPhone 7 launch, according to reports, but were far more muted than with the iPhone 6.

Apple thus far has no comment on the phone, the iPhone price or what the supply situation will be.

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