Only 5K iPhones Sold in Two Weeks by China’s Largest E-Tailer

chinese-iphoneChina 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 5 iPhones.

In its report IDG 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.

Mobile

Google Maps brings its real-time journey-tracking feature to iPhone

It's been available on Android for a while now, and now Google Maps has brought its real-time journey-tracking feature to iOS. It lets you choose who to share a journey with, and tracking ends automatically when you arrive.
Mobile

Strapped after your latest smartphone purchase? Check out our favorite MVNOs

Looking to switch from a major carrier to something a little more affordable? Luckily, there are a ton of great MVNO options to choose from. Check out our guide to the best MVNOs, from Boost Mobile to Google Project Fi.
Deals

The best iPhone deals for October 2018

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for September 2018.
Mobile

Sams's Club offers $100 gift cards for iPhone XR pre-orders

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now that the phones are out, you might be wondering how you can get them for yourself.
Mobile

Which Verizon plan is best for you? We check out family, individual, and prepaid

Verizon offers lots of plans for individuals, your family, and folks who want prepaid service. Here is everything you need to know about Verizon's plans, from data packages and smartphones to Big Red's prepaid plans.
Mobile

Apple sends out invites for October hardware event, new iPad Pro expected

The new iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and Apple Watch aren't the last devices we'll see from Apple in 2018. There are plenty of rumors about a new iPad coming this year too, and it may share some design similarities with the new phones.
Photography

Camera shootout! Testing the latest Pixel, iPhone, and Galaxy Note in real life

Which takes the best photos, the Pixel 3 XL, iPhone XS Max, Galaxy Note 9, or Pixel 2 XL? We put the cameras on all these top-notch phones through their paces to see which performs best in the real world, from low light to portrait mode…
Wearables

A strap for everyone: The best Apple Watch bands you can buy right now

If you have an Apple Watch, you know how easy it is to take off the strap it came with, so why not buy yourself another one? Here we've gathered the best Apple Watch bands we've seen so far and there's something for everyone.
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.
Mobile

Which new iPhone is the best? iPhone XS vs. iPhone XS Max vs. iPhone XR

Apple has three new iPhone models to choose from this year, making the choice a little harder than usual. What's the difference between the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR, and which is best?
Mobile

Need a do-over? Here's how to factory reset an iPhone, from XS on down

Resetting an iPhone can alleviate all sorts of software woes, and wipe away personal data should you sell your device or give it to someone else. Here's how to factory reset an iPhone from within iOS or iTunes.
Computing

Apple’s latest feature ensures MacOS apps are safer than ever

MacOS is mythically known for being more immune to viruses than Windows, but that doesn't mean there isn't room to make it safer. Apple is using an app notarization feature to protect users from downloading malicious apps.
Computing

Will Apple introduce a new MacBook at its Oct. 30 event? Here's everything we know

Whether it's called the MacBook Air or just the MacBook, Apple is highly rumored to introduce a new, affordable laptop in 2018. We discuss reports about upgrading displays, processors, sign-in features, and more.
Computing

Apple CEO demands Bloomberg retract its Chinese surveillance story

Apple CEO Tim Cook is calling on Bloomberg to retract a story alleging that Apple had purchased compromised servers that allowed the Chinese government to spy on Apple. Apple's investigation found no truth to the story.