Connect with us

China Digital

Did Apple Lose Momentum in China? iPhone 7 Hits Chinese Market, Netizens Not Too Crazy About It

iPhone 7 has been launched in China on Friday, but this time, people are not going crazy over its release. Many Chinese netizens say they would rather buy “made-in-China” smartphones.

Manya Koetse

Published

on

iPhone 7 has been launched in China on Friday, but this time, people are not going crazy over its release. Many Chinese netizens say they would rather buy “made-in-China” smartphones. According to Chinese entrepreneur Jia Yueting, Apple has become ‘outdated’ in China.

The crazy long queues in front of the Sanlitun Apple flagship store in Beijing upon every launch of a new iPhone have almost become ‘normal’. In 2012, Apple even canceled the launch of the iPhone 4S after scalpers broke out into a fight.

But this year has been quite different. On September 16, the iPhone 7 went on sale in China and 27 other countries. According to The Telegraph, some people already started queuing up in front of various international Apple Stores days ago. In Beijing, however, Apple fans seemed less enthusiastic.

Chinese media described the iPhone 7 China launch as “not too crazy” (“不太疯”), with “calm” scenes in front of the Apple store. The earliest queuers did not arrive before 5 in the morning.

On Weibo, some netizens pointed out that queuing up would be useless anyway because most buyers already pre-ordered their iPhone 7. But the tempered reception of the iPhone 7 relates to more than the pre-ordering process, as experts say Apple is ‘outdated’ and losing momentum.

Although it is disputable whether or not online reactions affect the actual purchasing behaviour of Chinese consumers, it does affect its brand perception – which undoubtedly will affect the brand’s growth in China in the long run.

Looking at the reactions from Chinese netizens, Apple’s alleged declining popularity has multiple causes that relate to its price, strong domestic competition, lack of innovation, and nationalistic sentiments.

Overall, social media responses to the release of iPhone 7 in China were subdued and not very enthusiastic.

 

Not Willing to Pay the Price

“It’s better to buy 7 apples instead, better for your health, too.”

On the day of the iPhone 7 release in China, quite some netizens posted pictures holding the iPhone 7 – some with a purchased model, but mostly were pictures of the models in the store.

87fca24dgw1f7vgucinx2j20k00zkt9o

According to one Weibo user from Guangdong, the lines at the local Apple stores were rather long, but many people seemed to line up only to see the iPhone 7 and “play with it” rather than actually purchasing it. For many, the iPhone is simply too expensive.

733eebb9gw1f7vebonpkxj20qo0zkaf0People queuing up at the Apple Store in Guangdong.

Official Apple prices of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in China respectively are RMB 5388 (±807 US$) and RMB 6388 (±957 US$). But several Chinese media reported on Friday that scalpers often make good money from reselling iPhones, some priced up to RMB 1000 (150 US$) more than the retail price.

A 20-year-old netizen said: “I really don’t understand what people want to prove by buying an iPhone 7. Do they want to flaunt their money?”

There are more netizens resisting buying the smartphone simply because it is Apple. “Chinese people usually like to buy things if they’re expensive,” one Weibo user remarks: “And Apple knows this weak spot.”

“People have money, people are stupid,” another Weibo user explains.

Under the hashtag “Why I Am Not Buying An iPhone 7” (#我为什么不买iphone7#), Chinese netizens discussed their aversion to buying the new smartphone.

For many netizens, money is the main issue. “Why I don’t buy an iPhone? Well, for the same reason why I don’t buy a villa. Or an airplane. I don’t have the money.”

Other Weibo users also said: “I’m poor.”

“The price is unreasonable,” one person remarked: “It’s better to buy 7 apples instead, better for your health, too!”

“Why I don’t buy an iPhone? Because I like Vivo more!”, another netizen says, pointing out the strong competition iPhone has from Chinese smartphones.

 

Strong Domestic Brands & Chinese Nationalism

“I’d rather buy the made-in-China Huawei. I can’t forgive America and Japan for how they’ve hurt China with the South China Sea trial.”

Many Chinese netizens say they now prefer Chinese brands over Apple. Made-in-China smartphone brands Huawei (华为), Vivo, Oppo, and Xiaomi (小米) are all tough competition for Apple, especially because of their quality/price ratio.

Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 4 is priced at RMB 899 (±$135), almost six times cheaper than the iPhone 7.

xiaomi-redmi-note-4-phone-9

But there are also other reasons that contribute to people choosing Chinese brands over foreign ones. One social media comment said: “I’d rather buy the made-in-China Huawei. I can’t forgive America and Japan for how they’ve hurt China with the South China Sea trial.”

The South China Sea verdict came out on July 12, stating that China had no legal rights over reefs and islands that are also claimed by others. The case was brought to the international tribunal in the Hague by the Philippiness, sparking anger in China. While Japan and the USA are stepping up their activity in the contested South China Sea, many netizens feel attacked and see the refusal to buy Apple product as a political choice.

Many other netizens also expressed that they would rather “support China” by buying made-in-China smartphones.

 

Lack of Innovation

“Apple’s innovation has become extremely low.”

Chinese entrepreneur and CEO of LeEco (formerly: LeTV) Jia Yueting spoke to CNBC earlier this year, and said he thought Apple is ‘outdated’. He also said that one of the main reasons for Apple’s declining popularity in China is that its “innovation has become extremely slow.” He said: “For example, a month ago Apple launched the iPhone SE. From an insiders’ perspective, this is a product with a very low level of technology.”

7677825fjw1f7v30e2ow3j20zk0qo48g

Other online analysts also predict that “Apple’s bubble is about to break.” Consumers have become more tech-savvy and have high expectations of the products and gadgets they buy: “Apple is still good compared to earlier Android phones in terms of ability. But iOs is not that good anymore. The use of Huawei is much more efficient now,” one netizen writes.

7677825fjw1f7v30alkfpj20zk0qoqay

For Apple, the subdued reactions on Chinese social media do not seem to affect its international sales. Initial quantities of the iPhone 7 Plus have already sold out globally, the company said Wednesday. This means that many customers who visited Apple Stores on Friday were not even able to purchase the sold-out phones. They can, however, still continue to place orders, Apple stated. On Weibo, however, many netizens seem to have lost their interest in getting their hands on the latest iPhone.

– By Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

China Digital

From Red Packet to Virtual Hongbao: Lucky Envelopes in China’s Digital Era

Raising virtual cows, shaking with phones – this is the Chinese New Year tradition of giving red envelopes in the digital era.

Things That Talk

Published

on

The custom of giving out red paper envelopes has evolved into a world of virtual lucky money and online games. This is the transformation of a Chinese New Year’s tradition, reported by Koen van der Lijn and Xiaojun Zhang.

 
When objects meet social media, two websites meet as well. This is a collaboration between What’s on Weibo and Things That Talk (follow on Insta @thingsthattalk).
 

Ever wanted to raise a digital cow? This year, you can raise your own lucky cow (福牛) for Chinese New Year on Weibo. Through maintaining and raising their virtual cow (or ox), users can participate in this online game to win red envelopes, a well-known and beloved tradition linked to Chinese New Year.

The hashtag “Lucky Cow’s New Year’s Travelogue” (#福牛新春旅行记#) is linked to Weibo’s celebration of Chinese Spring Festival and the Year of the Ox. Users are expected to be active on Weibo daily to raise their cow/ox, similar to the once so popular Tamagotchi. Whilst leveling up their cow, users get the possibility to earn digital red envelopes.

The online game is another development in the story of the red envelopes, known in China as hongbao (红包). Often given during Chinese New Year, the envelopes can also be given at other joyous occasions like weddings. These red envelopes are given to each other by friends and family members to wish each other a happy new year and are always filled with an amount of money.

Red envelopes for sale via Taobao.

The practice of giving money during Chinese New Year goes far back in Chinese history. The earliest form of the red envelope is said to be yasuiqian (压祟钱). In order to keep evil spirits away, called sui (祟), people put money underneath children’s pillow since the evil spirits were said to be warded off by coins.1 These coins were woven together using a string.

Yasuiqian

As time went by and paper money and envelopes became more widespread, string and coins were replaced and the red envelope was created.

Red envelopes are used by Chinese all over the world nowadays. The amount of money inside depends on many factors. Recently, the tradition has left behind its tangible form and entered the digital era.

 

“Adding the thrill of gambling to the practice of giving away red envelopes”

 

In 2014, the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat (微信) launched a new function that allowed users to send virtual red envelopes. Users could send an amount of money directly to another user, or an amount of red envelopes could be sent into a groupchat. When the function launched, users worldwide could shake their phones in order to receive free red envelopes. The amount of money that was given to users surpassed 500 million yuan ($77.5 million).

WeChat’s inventive idea put digital red envelopes on the map in China. During the peak of the event, 800 million shakes were recorded per minute. There were two types of envelopes introduced in 2014 by Tencent, the company that owns WeChat:

1. A regular red envelope that could be sent directly from one user to another.
2. A ‘group’ red envelope, with a limited number to be grabbed and a limited sum of money which can be grabbed by all users in a group if they are fast enough. The sum inside this envelope is randomized, adding the thrill of gambling to the practice of giving away red envelopes.

Other companies also wanted a piece of the digital red envelope cake: Weibo and AliPay combined their strengths a year after WeChat introduced its digital hongbao in order to promote their version of the digital red envelope.

A ‘war’ then broke out between the two companies. AliPay handed out 600 million renminbi ($93 million) worth of red envelopes as a response to WeChat’s 120 million envelopes sent out during the televised celebration of Chinese New Year.2

 

“Digital red envelopes can cross time and place, but cannot replace the method of face-to-face contact”

 

In the years after, the digital red envelope became more and more popular. Weibo and Alipay also came with their version of sending red envelopes online. The companies organized large-scale actions to make users make use of their form of digital red envelopes.

WeChat, for instance, gives users the option to make the red envelopes very personal through adding stickers and personal messages, making the digital red envelope an even more enjoyable experience.

Does this new development of the traditional red envelope make the tangible envelope obsolete?

When asked by the digital newspaper The Paper (澎湃新闻) about whether the digital red envelope might replace its tangible brother, scholar Tian Zhaoyuan (田兆元) of East China Normal University said that the digital red envelope can cross time and place, but cannot replace the method of face-to-face contact. Though friends and family may send one another digital red envelopes, it does not mean that it replaces the tangible red envelopes.3

The tradition of sending red envelopes is and will be inherently linked to Chinese New Year. Though both the paper and digital forms of the tradition remain incredibly popular, the virtual hongbao will definitely win territory once more this year as travel is restricted due to COVID-19. Especially in these times, the digital red envelope is the best digital way of wishing family and friends a happy new year.

Why are ‘lucky envelopes’ not just red, but sometimes also green or purple? Read more via Things That Talk here.

 
By Koen van der Lijn and Xiaojun Zhang

Koen van der Lijn (China Studies, BA) is a ResMa student Asian Studies at Leiden University focused on Chinese history and its international relations. He is a student ambassador at Things That Talk.

Xiaojun Zhang (China Studies, BA) is an MA student Asian Studies at Leiden University focused on contemporary Chinese culture, symbolism and food. For Things That Talk, she currently works on a project about Chinese-Indonesian restaurants in the Netherlands.

This story was made in collaboration with ThingsThatTalk.net – exploring humanities through the life of objects. Things That Talk is an educational digital project where staff and students produce narratives and metadata about objects in Leiden collections and beyond. Check out the story “Hongbao: from paper envelope to digital gift” on Things That Talk here!

 
Footnotes (other sources hyperlinked within the article)

1 Kin Wai Michael Siu. 2001. “Red Packet: a Traditional Object in the Modern World.” Journal of Popular Culture 35 (3), 103.
2 Chen, Liyan. 2015. “Red Envelope War: How Alibaba and Tencent Fight Over Chinese New Year.” Forbes, Feb 19 https://www.forbes.com/sites/liyanchen/2015/02/19/red-envelope-war-how-alibaba-and-tencent-fight-over-chinese-new-year/?sh=1b88bccccddd.
3 The Paper, Zuowei yi zhong “xinnian su”, weixin hongbao hui qudai zhizhi hongbao ma? 作为一种“新年俗”,微信红包会取代纸质红包吗?, https://cul.qq.com/a/20160208/012888.htm.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Continue Reading

China Digital

Conversations Behind the Wall: Clubhouse App Now Blocked in China

While the Clubhouse app is no longer accessible from within the PRC, conversations continue behind the wall.

Manya Koetse

Published

on

The Clubhouse app became a hot topic among web users in mainland China this weekend. On Monday, the platform was no longer accessible from within the PRC.

On Saturday, we posted an article about the surge in popularity of American ‘drop-in audio chat’ social media platform Clubhouse in mainland China.

As conversations about the popular app continued throughout the weekend, the app was no longer accessible from within mainland China on Monday.

Clubhouse describes itself as “a space for casual, drop-in audio conversations—with friends and other interesting people around the world” where you can “go online anytime to chat with the people you follow, or hop in as a listener and hear what others are talking about.”

The app has virtual rooms and events themed around various topics – anything from politics to music – and lets hundreds of members join conversations as moderators, speakers, or listeners.

The Clubhouse app was developed by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Paul Davison and ex-Google employee Rohan Seth. It was first launched in April 2020 on iOS only, and is still only accessible through iPhone for users who have an invite.

Before Monday, the Clubhouse app was freely accessible from within China for those people who had an invite, but only if they had access to the non-Chinese Apple store to download the app.

The app was a hot topic on various Chinese social media platforms this weekend. On Weibo, the civilized and open character of the Clubhouse conversations were praised, allowing a broader understanding of issues that otherwise remain untouched or are limited within the Chinese social media sphere.

One Chinese-language virtual room about the Xinjiang camps was joined by hundreds of people on Saturday. But besides the room focused on Xinjiang, there were also other rooms where discussions took place about the status of Hong Kong and about issues such as whether or not (overseas) Chinese are willing to return to the mainland and why.

“It is like a small crack in a window,” one person on Weibo said about Clubhouse, while others already predicted the app would become unavailable from within mainland China soon.

When it finally happened on Monday, the responses on Weibo were mainly those of disappointment. “Bye bye Clubhouse,” some Weibo users wrote, with others expressing their surprise: “What?! It was just popular for two days and it’s already blocked? They move so fast it’s scary.”

“I was active on Clubhouse for two days. I didn’t expect it to be shut down so soon already.”

Although many commenters previously expressed that they expected the app to become unavailable within the PRC, the fact that it was shutdown while it was just exploding online comes as a surprise to some, as various commenters write.

The term ‘Clubhouse’ was also temporarily blocked on Weibo by Monday night Beijing time; over the weekend various hashtags relating to the app made their rounds on Chinese social media, but the hashtag pages were no longer online by Monday evening.

‘Clubhouse’ no longer shows results on social media platform Weibo. Screenshot by What’s on Weibo.

Meanwhile, various Chinese-language rooms on Clubhouse discussed the topic of its disappearance in China.

A room titled “Clubhouse is blocked, and now?” was joined by over a hundred people on Monday night. The room “Clubhouse is blocked” attracted over 3000 participants. These conversations are likely to continue for the time to come, but now they must continue behind the Great Firewall of China.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Support What’s on Weibo

If you enjoy What’s on Weibo and support the way we report the latest trends in China, you could consider becoming a What's on Weibo patron:
Donate

Facebook

Advertisement

Contribute

Got any tips? Or want to become a contributor or intern at What's on Weibo? Email us as at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Popular Reads