Feeds

ChiPhone fails to ignite consumer frenzy

But betting against Apple still inadvisable

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Legal iPhones have been available in China since last Friday, but Chinese consumers aren't falling over themselves to buy the pricey smartphones.

But don't let the low sales figures fool you.

According to a report by Reuters, China Unicom has sold a mere 5,000 iPhones since their release last week. That's approximately one iPhone per quarter-million residents of the Middle Kingdom.

At first blush, the steep prices China Unicom is asking for the phones may be a major stumbling block. The loss-leader of the line, the 8GB iPhone 3G, runs a cool 4,999 yuan ($732, £445). Neither is the 16GB 3GS a bargain buy at 5,880 yuan ($861, £524), and the top-of-the-line 32GB 3GS commands a princely 6,999 yuan ($1,024, £623).

But those are just the up-front costs. If you take a longer view, the prices - although still high - are less egregious. China Unicom's eight levels of service plans run from 126 yuan ($18, £11) to 886 yuan ($130, £79) a month. The plans have a complex subsidy structure, but as The Wall Street Journal reports, the top-end plan for a top-end ChiPhone costs just under $3,100 over two years - which is not heinously higher than AT&T's priciest phone-plus-plan, which totals $2,600 over two years. Plus tax.

To be sure, US iPhones have the notable advantage of WiFi, which is absent in ChiPhones due to the Chinese government's recently relaxed paranoia concern over that wireless technology.

Sophisticated Chinese customers may simply be waiting for the next batch of iPhones, which may very well be WiFi-equipped. The Chinese government relaxed its ban in May, but this came too late in the manufacturing process for the first batch of ChiPhones.

And before the meager 5,000-sold figure prompts you to prematurely declare Apple's China move a failure, remember that the iPhone's US debut - despite a frothing hype storm unmatched in recent memory - was not itself meteoric.

Accompanied by news reports with headlines such as "iPhone Sales Disappoint", the iPhone's first month saw a mere 270,000 units make their way into American pockets. Today, there are over 33.7 million in the wild worldwide, with 7.4 million having been sold in Apple's most-recent quarter alone.

Fortunes have been lost by betting against Apple in recent times. In the past year alone, for example, Cupertino's stock price doubled while the rest of the world slogged through the Meltdown mire.

China Unicom's sales of 5,000 iPhones in four days may not portend a breathtaking surge of legal Chinese iPhone sales, but neither does such a small sampling merit investor wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Check back in a fiscal quarter or three, when we'll reassess the ChiPhone's success. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
Surprise: if you work from home you need the Internet
Buffer-rage sends Aussies out to experience road rage
EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass
Operator says it will safeguard 359 jobs, plans lick of paint
MOST iPhone strokers SPURN iOS 8: iOS 7 'un-updatening' in 5...4...
Guess they don't like our battery-draining update?
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.