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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.

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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 According to Chinese entrepreneur Jia Yueting, Apple has become ‘outdated’ in China.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 But the tempered reception of the iPhone 7 relates to more than the pre-ordering process, as experts say Apple is ‘outdated’ and losing momentum.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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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China Digital

Key Players, Digital Trends & Deep Dives: China Internet Report 2021

SCMP just launched its latest China Internet Report. (And What’s on Weibo readers can get a 30% discount on the Pro Edition!)

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As China’s tech sector has been facing an ongoing crackdown by Beijing regulations, a lot has been changing in the country’s digital environment over the past year. The new China Internet Report 2021 by SCMP gives an overview of the latest trends and developments.

When it comes to China’s online landscape, nothing ever stays the same. Over the past year, political, economic, and social developments and measures have once again changed the Chinese digital environment.

Giving a comprehensive overview of the key leaders and major trends dominating the Chinese online field, South China Morning Post (SCMP) issued its fourth annual China Internet Report.

China’s internet population has now risen to 989 million – last year’s report indicated an internet population of 904 million. By now, there are 853 million mobile payment users, which indicates that over 86% of the entire mobile internet population uses mobile as a way to pay.

As China’s internet population is still growing, and new online startups are still popping up every day, there have been tightening regulations on multiple fronts.

As laid out in SCMP’s report, regulations mainly focus on the four areas of antitrust, finance, cybersecurity, and data privacy. Regulatory actions targeting the monopolistic behaviours of China’s biggest internet companies are still ongoing, and the new Data Security Law came into effect on September 1st of this year.

While Chinese tech companies are seeing increased scrutiny at home, they have also been facing intensifying geopolitical tensions between China and other countries. Over the past year, the various probes and shutdowns into Chinese companies by countries such as the US and India have meant a serious blow to the market share of Chinese apps.

Meanwhile, the SCMP report highlights the trend of various older and newer Chinese (e-commerce) apps “downplaying” their Chinese origins when entering foreign markets. Shein is a good example of this development, but other players including Zaful, Urbanic, and Cider are also experiencing more success outside of China while not explicitly marketing themselves as Chinese e-commerce apps.

Another noteworthy trend explained in the new report is how China’s shifting demographics are creating new niche segments to compete over. The COVID-19 crisis is partially a reason why China has seen an increase in senior internet users, with an increasing number of online products and content catering to the elderly.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) even issued special guidelines earlier this year for web pages and mobile apps to carry out so-called “elderly friendliness modifications.” Since this user group is still expected to see significant growth, the “silver economy” is an area that will only become more important in the years to come.

To check out all the main trends for 2021, China’s latest internet statistics, its top tech competitors, internet companies, and more, here’s a link to the free report.

The free report is 55 pages long and gives an overview of China’s latest internet numbers and players, covers the top cross-sector trends for 2021, including the tightening regulations and the bumpy road ahead for China’s tech IPOs.

The Pro Edition of China’s Internet Report 2021, also launched by SCMP, is 138 pages long and provides a deep-dive into ten relevant sectors – featuring insightful and useful analysis, data, and case studies relating to China’s e-commerce market, content & media, gaming, blockchain, fintech, online education, healthtech, smart cars, 5G, and Artificial Intelligence.

The China Internet Report Pro Edition is priced at US$400, but the team at SCMP has kindly reached out and made it possible for us to offer a special 30% discount to What’s on Weibo readers.

You’ll get the discount by using the discount code: WHATSONWEIBO30, or by clicking this link that will automatically include your discount code.

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.

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China Digital

How Social Media Is Speeding Up Zhengzhou Flooding Rescue Efforts

Chinese social media are speeding up local rescue efforts after Zhengzhou saw the heaviest rain in 1,000 years.

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Social media is utilized as a tool in the response to the floodings in Henan province. Once again, Weibo facilitates active public participation to provide immediate assistance to the people facing this natural disaster. 

On Tuesday, July 20, heavy rainfall caused major disruptions in the central province of Henan. The amount of rain over the last three days in Zhengzhou is reported to be the same as what it would usually receive in an entire year.

It is reported that Henan Province has initiated the highest-level emergency response to floods, and China’s State Flood Control and Drought Relief Bureau has dispatched a workgroup to Henan, initiating level III emergency response rescue work.

Since the evening of July 20, news and information streams on the heavy rains and floods have been dominating Chinese social media. In the midst of the disastrous events, Weibo has become an online space for people seeking help, those disseminating information on available resources, and for other related activities that help netizens engage in emergency management and accessing information.

The volume of such messages is huge, with thousands of netizens seeking ways to help speed up rescue work and actively contribute to the emergency relief efforts.

The organically improvised response protocol on social media includes the following guidelines:

  • Verify, summarize, highlight, and spread online help requests posted by people from different locations
  • Remind people to delete help-seeking posts once they have been rescued or have found assistance.
  • Disseminate relevant knowledge relating to emergency care and response, and public health information, such as how to deal with different disaster scenarios, warning people about the safety of drinking water during floods, etc.
  • Share information regarding mental health and psychosocial support during the different phases of the disaster.

 

When posts of people trapped by the heavy rain started to be published on Weibo, many online influencers, no matter what subject they usually focus on, participated in spreading help-request posts that were not getting a lot of online attention.

Erdi 耳帝, a music influencer with nearly 15 million fans on Weibo, has been retweeting the online posts of people asking for help since the night of July 20.

The social media influencer Erdi has been kept retweeting asking-for-help posts since the night of July 20.

An example of such an online emergency help request (求助贴) is the following post of July 21st, 17:15 local time:

Our entire neighborhood is cut off from water and electricity, the water level is rising to chest level, and we currently have no drinking water at the moment. Need help urgently.

Status: Verified, pending rescue.
Seeking help: Wu M**, phone 13*****27
Number of people to be rescued: five or six thousand
Location: Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, Zhengdong New District, Shangdu / Xuzhuang Street intersection, east courtyard of Shangdu Jiayuan Muzhuang district (we can’t exit the building, there is no water, no electricity, no supplies, and it’s been 24 hours)

Once people who have been trapped by the water are rescued, the user who published the post will delete the original post to make sure other emergency posts are also noticed and disseminated.

Some Weibo users engage in organizing scattered online information in one single post, e.g. posts regarding local electricity leakage, making this information more accessible and easier to understand.

One post that was among the top-shared ones this week, is a picture that includes contact information of rescue teams of both officials and civilians. When realizing that some people were unable to upload the picture due to poor internet connections caused by the heavy rain, an up-to-date and full-text version was quickly shared by netizens.

Some Weibo users listed various methods to get assistance for hearing-impaired and deaf-mute people affected by the floods, advising people to download various apps to help to communicate and translate.

Besides the more general practical advice and emergency action plans shared by Chinese social media users, there are also those who pay attention to the importance of personal hygiene during these times. Some are sending out information about menstrual hygiene needs during floods, reminding women to frequently change sanitary pads and try to keep the genital area clean and dry due to the risk of infection. A hashtag related to menstruation during the flooding momentarily ranked fifth in the top search lists (#河南暴雨 如果你出在经期<).

Information on mental health support is disseminated all across social media.

People also try to provide mental support in other ways. A student orchestra spontaneously performed at the Zhengzhou station, where dozens of passengers were left stranded in the night. The video clips of the performance went viral, with the young musicians playing two widely-known songs, “My People, My Country” (我和我的祖国) and “Ode to the Motherland” (歌唱祖国). Many social media users shared the clips and expressed how the performance moved them to tears.

Some video clips that show how ordinary people save ordinary people amid such a natural disaster have also been widely shared. One video shows citizens of Zhengzhou standing in a line and use a rope to pull people from an underground floor where they were trapped by the water flooded.

In all the aforementioned ways and many more, Weibo has become a public platform for Chinese people to respond to the Henan disaster, efficiently communicate and keep track of help requests, organize and disseminate related information, and provide access to timely knowledge and relevant advice.

With so many online influencers and ordinary netizens voluntarily joining in, the online information flows are quickly circulating, allowing for necessary public communication channels while other resources and communication methods are still overwhelmed or in the making. The last time Weibo was used as an efficient emergency communication tool was during the early days of the COVID19 outbreak in Wuhan.

“Please stand strong, Zhengzhou” and “Hang on, Henan,” many commenters write: “Help is underway!”

Also see our previous article on the situation in Zhengzhou here.

By Wendy Huang

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

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

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