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Hong Kong sees iPhone 4S frenzy even without Siri support for Mandarin

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
The entire stock of iPhone 4S units sold out on launch day in Hong Kong in just under three hours, even though Apple's Siri voice recognition doesn't work with the Chinese language.

The new Apple store in Hong Kong and Apple-authorized resellers in the city all sold out of iPhone 4S inventory within three hours on Friday according to Brian White, an analyst with Ticonderoga Securities. He noted that Apple's online store in Hong Kong told visitors that there is "no supply" of iPhone 4S available.

Pent-up demand for the iPhone 4S occurred even though Siri, one of the major new features found in Apple's latest handset, does not contain support for the Chinese language. Apple has promised that Siri support will come to additional languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian and Spanish, in 2012.

More specifically, White said his sources have indicated that Siri will understand Mandarin, the most popular form of the Chinese language, by March of 2012. It is estimated that about 850 million people in China speak Mandarin. In Hong Kong, the most popular form of Chinese is Cantonese.

White expects Apple will launch the iPhone 4S in mainland China in December. He noted that during its September quarter, Apple generated $4.5 billion in revenue from Greater China, representing year-over-year growth of 270 percent. In all, Apple generated $13 billion in sales from China in its 2011 fiscal year, compared to $3 billion in 2010.

A line for the iPhone 4S at Apple's retail store in Hong Kong on Friday. Photo via Reuters/Times Live.

Apple current has a total of six retail stores in Greater China. The company's first store in Hong Kong, which was slammed with customers on Friday for the iPhone 4S launch, first opened in September with a view of Victoria Harbour at the high-end International Financial Center Mall.

While the launch and subsequent sell out of the iPhone 4S in Hong Kong has generated the most attention, it is not the only region where Apple's latest iPhone model went on sale on Friday. The device also debuted in South Korea, Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Malta, Montenegro, New Zealand, Panama, Poland, Portugal, and Romania.
post #2 of 30
I suppose Siri is a great opportunity for some to practice their English.

By the way, language support is a smaller obstacle to overcome in making Siri's functionality international. Regional culture differences will be a much greater challenge.
post #3 of 30
Am I drunk? What does Mandarin have to do with Hong Kong specifically? You do realize more Hong Kongese speak English than probably speak Mandarin?

Asia is a big place. They don't all speak Mandarin...
post #4 of 30
they speak cantonese mainly in hongkong. It is the language of choice in that place.
post #5 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The entire stock of iPhone 4S units sold out on launch day in Hong Kong in just under three hours, even as the most popular form of the Chinese language, Mandarin, does not yet work with Apple's Siri voice recognition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post

Am I drunk? What does Mandarin have to do with Hong Kong specifically? You do realize more Hong Kongese speak English than probably speak Mandarin?

Asia is a big place. They don't all speak Mandarin...

Mandarin was chosen because it's the most wildly spoken language. I think it's about 15:1 over Yue(Cantonese). But I see your point about connecting Mandarian as a primary language of Hong Kong. They really should have worded it to noted that since Mandarian with it's much larger base of users isn't on the iPhone for Siri, so that Cantonese should be expected for awhile, either.
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post #6 of 30
The Market Dynamic in China appears to be very different then here in the states, I have some theories why, but it would only stir this forum up.

The problem to me is that Apple is the golden child of this market at this time. And these sort of economic bubbles are fickle and can burst. I can only hope that Apples Marketing and engineering efforts can delay this, but historically, it is hard to avoid.

I would hope that Apple will use Siri as a (close to) real time universal translation function sometime in the future. Maybe starting as a desktop / facetime application. They could sell it like itunes, but time dependent. You could buy 30 minutes of translation, say, for a business meeting. I think it would be profitable.

This will be interesting to watch.
post #7 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The entire stock of iPhone 4S units sold out on launch day in Hong Kong in just under three hours, even though the most popular form of the Chinese language, Mandarin, does not yet work with Apple's Siri voice recognition.


97% of the population in Hong Kong speak Cantonese.
4% of Hong Kong citizens speak a variety of Mandarin.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Hong_Kong


HTH.
post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post

Am I drunk? What does Mandarin have to do with Hong Kong specifically? You do realize more Hong Kongese speak English than probably speak Mandarin?

Asia is a big place. They don't all speak Mandarin...

"Hong Kongese"

Quote:
Originally Posted by alpha666us View Post

they speak cantonese mainly in hongkong. It is the language of choice in that place.

"language of choice"

Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

97% of the population in Hong Kong speak Cantonese.
4% of Hong Kong citizens speak a variety of Mandarin.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Hong_Kong


HTH.

How about y'all read the article before showing off your knowledge of the world?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

... It is estimated that about 850 million people in China speak Mandarin. In Hong Kong, the most popular form of Chinese is Cantonese.
...

Many of these phones were bought to be resold in mainland China.
post #9 of 30
Surely people in any country in the world are buying because it's the latest iPhone, not because of Siri. I can't imagine anyone who bought the phone uses Siri on a regular basis, or that anyone would think they would.
post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post

How about y'all read the article before showing off your knowledge of the world?

I started to wonder if the below quote (as you also stated) from the article was in the initial report:

"It is estimated that about 850 million people in China speak Mandarin. In Hong Kong, the most popular form of Chinese is Cantonese."

I thought I was reading the wrong thread.

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post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post

Surely people in any country in the world are buying because it's the latest iPhone, not because of Siri. I can't imagine anyone who bought the phone uses Siri on a regular basis, or that anyone would think they would.

Anyone? What about the with vision difficulties that would benefit greatly from Siri? That last part of the Siri commercial almost brought a tear to my eye. I am not in everyones home, but I am sure more than a few people use it on a regular basis.
If I didn't already have the iPhone 4, I would.
post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post

Surely people in any country in the world are buying because it's the latest iPhone, not because of Siri. I can't imagine anyone who bought the phone uses Siri on a regular basis, or that anyone would think they would.

I use it all the time. Probably every waking hour. It's just too easy to ask it complex queries that would take longer to type in Google, to dictate emails or iMessages(SMS), or create location aware reminders for many simply things previously not worth typing out.

Now the previous iPhones have Voice Control for calling contacts and playing artists and playlists from the Music/iPod app. Siri make the former better when the contact isn't in your address book and requires a google search to locate. You can simply ask Siri to "Call Walgreens pharmacy" and it will bring up a list of the closest pharmacies to you. You then click the one you want and it initiates the call. That's a huge savings over having to use Maps to find your location, find the right pins, zoom in, and then click the pin to see more info and then click the phone number. You can even do this from a locked iPhone if you wish.

With Music Siri makes this better by allowing you to choose a particular song or album directly. It can't add stars to songs or create genius playlists. It still will shuffle, repeat , tell you who's play and whatnot, like just with Voice Control.
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post #13 of 30
I look forward to hearing the isheeple comments when Apple is selling 50 million iphones quarter after quarter, once mainland China is added to the mix.
post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by tankgaj View Post

Anyone? What about the with vision difficulties that would benefit greatly from Siri? That last part of the Siri commercial almost brought a tear to my eye. I am not in everyones home, but I am sure more than a few people use it on a regular basis.
If I didn't already have the iPhone 4, I would.

Why would someone with "vision difficulties" buy a touch screen phone?
post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post

Why would someone with "vision difficulties" buy a touch screen phone?

Because of Siri. And because of other accessibility features pre-Siri. There was a blind woman in the first Siri demonstration and I remember that in one of the recent television specials on Steve Jobs a blind musician talked about how he uses his iPhone (touchscreen and all), and this was long before Siri's introduction; he used the standard Accessibility panel to have his phone speak to him.

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post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post

Why would someone with "vision difficulties" buy a touch screen phone?

They would benefit from a device with a Braille screen, like the Whistler in "Sneakers"...
post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Because of Siri. And because of other accessibility features pre-Siri. There was a blind woman in the first Siri demonstration and I remember that in one of the recent television specials on Steve Jobs a blind musician talked about how he uses his iPhone (touchscreen and all), and this was long before Siri's introduction; he used the standard Accessibility panel to have his phone speak to him.

stevie wonder? he said some beautiful things about jobs.
post #18 of 30
The Reuters picture is clearly scalpers. People in HK do not look like that, they're from the mainland.
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post

Am I drunk? What does Mandarin have to do with Hong Kong specifically? You do realize more Hong Kongese speak English than probably speak Mandarin?

Asia is a big place. They don't all speak Mandarin...

Totally agree.

And iPhone 4s is not only about Siri!!!
post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post

stevie wonder? he said some beautiful things about jobs.

WAS that him? It very well may have been. I don't know my jazz musicians by their faces, just their music.

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post #21 of 30
The truth is that while 95% or so of people in Hong Kong speak Cantonese as their native language, probably 60% of people in Hong Kong can speak Mandarin with decent fluency as a second language, while only probably about 30% of people can speak English fluently. So Mandarin is far more relevant in this context than English.

Not to mention that probably about 70% of the phones sold at launch are going to the mainland, which is the far greater issue.
post #22 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

The truth is that while 95% or so of people in Hong Kong speak Cantonese as their native language, probably 60% of people in Hong Kong can speak Mandarin with decent fluently as a second language, while only probably about 30% of people can speak English fluently. So Mandarin is far more relevant in this context than English.

Not to mention that probably about 70% of the phones sold at launch are going to the mainland, which is the far greater issue.

And within the 30% of English speakers, 30% are westerners, 20% are Chinese who lives and grew up in a western country, 50% are people who thinks they can speak English.

To be on topic, I agree most if not over 90% of those 4s is going though some sort of resell chain, be it in mong kok or the main land. So yea, I would say we are gona see mandarin Siri coming before a Cantonese version.
post #23 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post

"Hong Kongese"

South East Asians call them "Honkys". Honest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post

Many of these phones were bought to be resold in mainland China.

This.

Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post

Surely people in any country in the world are buying because it's the latest iPhone, not because of Siri. I can't imagine anyone who bought the phone uses Siri on a regular basis, or that anyone would think they would.

For Asia, mainly it's to show off the white iPhone 4/4S.
post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

The truth is that while 95% or so of people in Hong Kong speak Cantonese as their native language, probably 60% of people in Hong Kong can speak Mandarin with decent fluently as a second language, while only probably about 30% of people can speak English fluently. So Mandarin is far more relevant in this context than English.

Not to mention that probably about 70% of the phones sold at launch are going to the mainland, which is the far greater issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeasar View Post

And within the 30% of English speakers, 30% are westerners, 20% are Chinese who lives and grew up in a western country, 50% are people who thinks they can speak English.

To be on topic, I agree most if not over 90% of those 4s is going though some sort of resell chain, be it in mong kok or the main land. So yea, I would say we are gona see mandarin Siri coming before a Cantonese version.

Mandarin voice recognition and text-to-speech would be an interesting and significant R&D undertaking for Apple/Siri/etc. I'm not familiar with the Mandarin voice software market but I know across Asia (including South East Asia) Mandarin accents vary by a large degree. The difference would be like between Southern USA and Australian outback.
post #25 of 30
For me, it's the double data (maximum) speeds, Siri, not necessarily what it can do now, but looking toward the future, the faster processor (not so much an issue), the better camera, and most importantly, the 64GB capacity. I will take advantage of all of these, and I will enjoy Infinity Blade II when it comes out. There are many many reasons to want the 4S as an upgrade for the iPhone 4. It's not just about status. Up until 3 weeks ago, I was using a feature phone.

[Edit]Oh! I forgot full mirroring to my Apple TV!!!! That's going to be one I use all the time.[/Edit]

Of course, Apple TV 2 is inexplicably not available in Hong Kong, so unlike me, that last one will not benefit most users here. FFS, Apple!!!! Apple TV 2 is not just about renting media!!!!
post #26 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post

Am I drunk? What does Mandarin have to do with Hong Kong specifically? You do realize more Hong Kongese speak English than probably speak Mandarin?

Asia is a big place. They don't all speak Mandarin...

Well aren't you the genius! Dead wrong. Mandarin is now mandatory in schools in Hong Kong. And English is not as prevalent as you think.
post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Mandarin was chosen because it's the most wildly spoken language. I think it's about 15:1 over Yue(Cantonese). But I see your point about connecting Mandarian as a primary language of Hong Kong. They really should have worded it to noted that since Mandarian with it's much larger base of users isn't on the iPhone for Siri, so that Cantonese should be expected for awhile, either.

It seems that we have a lot of clueless people posting that have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to Hong Kong. Most of the iPhones sold in Hong Kong end up on the mainland. HK has no sales tax and the mainland puts a 17% tax on all Apple products as a foreign electronics manufacture even though they are assembled in China. Further, as noted in my earlier post, Mandarin is now mandatory in HK primary schools and is important in business so is becoming more prevalent. Combine this with the vast number of mainlanders that visit HK every year. Mandarin is VERY relevant to HK.
post #28 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeRange View Post

Well aren't you the genius! Dead wrong. Mandarin is now mandatory in schools in Hong Kong. And English is not as prevalent as you think.

Well, to be fair, English is also mandatory in all HK schools from grade K-11. And most kids get it from 3 years old in nursery. Unfortunately, without peer support and parental help, and with the poor teaching in Hong Kong, fluency success rate is in the crapper, despite our best intentions. Students have a bit more success with Mandarin. Unlike Singapore, it's considered 'uncool' or bragging by most students' peers for one to be good at English.
post #29 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by iKol View Post

Siri is NOT a make or break feature- yet. A gimmick ony at this stage- rarely works.

I apologize for my former words. I'll restate my meaning.

What experience do you have with Siri that allows you to make this determination? And why do you believe what you've said when there really isn't another review out there that corroborates your theory?

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post #30 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Because of Siri. And because of other accessibility features pre-Siri. There was a blind woman in the first Siri demonstration and I remember that in one of the recent television specials on Steve Jobs a blind musician talked about how he uses his iPhone (touchscreen and all), and this was long before Siri's introduction; he used the standard Accessibility panel to have his phone speak to him.

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