APPLE NEED A LOW PRICE MODEL FOR THE ASIA. PERIOD.
I have been running a small Apple Products related shop in Colombo suburbs in Sri Lanka and have quite a bit of experience on how our markets behave.
1. As anywhere else our mobile market is very active and lucrative business right now.
2. We have five GSM operators (Dialog GSM, Mobitel, Etisalat, Hutch, Airtel) very competitive and few have repeatedly tried a subsidized model without any form of success. Subsidized phones with contracts CANNOT be sold here even the phone is FREE. But contract free, top-up,
SIM swappable phones sell like hot cakes. We are pre-paid market.
3. At the market price today (20 APR 2013) cheapest new iPhone 5 costs you Rs.100,000/- or 794USD here. Whatever brand recognition or hype Apple has, you can not convince many persons to spend that kind of money on a phone even if they have money unless he or she is an Apple fanatic. LKR 1LAK is a mind barrier even for the people who drives 100,000/- USD cars. Here most business men, doctors, lawyers who used to carry iPhones now carry the latest Galaxy's, only celebrities and few other carry the latest iPhones.
4. Walk in to any phone shop, they have but condemn Chinese Androids and recommend Samsung Galaxy over it. No Apple. And the cheapest piece of Samsung Android shit sells as Galaxy Y (Android 2.3) for Rs. 15,000/- or 110USD a sweet package. Roughly a monthly wage of young worker. An Apple can easily sell as double as that around 250-300USD model. I think 3GS can be made at that price.
5. On contrast I had been selling enough iPhones to grow my business last two years which are consists of refurbished iPhone 3GS to 4S priced below 750USD mark. I have been selling 3GS quite well till last year, for around Rs. 30,000/- or 230USD a unit. The issue here is with iOS 6.0 baseband corruption renders iPhone unlocking near impossible now and the Maps fiasco make it worse. No new 3GS/4 or 4S (factory Unlocked or not) can be obtained from the market easily to sell here either. So last six months Apple advocate me and my company has to start offering Androids without any other solution left for us to survive.
6. Say for Chinese, locals have bad perception, but say Samsung, it is now well renowned or portrayed as the highest profile brand like SONY used to be and riding the high waves here, no one knows or cares they copied Apple, it is highly irrelavent and all they want to go online (Facebook) and play games on their phones, browse on their tablets. Samsung is the new Apple for that here, I guess this is exactly the way Indian market is heating up.
7. iOS 6.0 update brought few real surprise for Apple die hard here, Google Maps always work near perfect here, any darn corner of the street name can be looked upon. Apple crowd here was pretty used to it and now Apple Maps killed the chance even to search the city I live in, where an Apple shop is available. Imagine?
8. Samsung and carrier backed Android marketing is in full SWING here for the last two years, So Apple brand name is never heard of for new breed of people who look at my iPad units and ask, what is this tab? Is it Chinese? Don't you have Galaxies? what the heck?
So Daniel, make sure Apple hear these, any market is for Apple is a market for Apple, and killing it for whatever ignorance they have with that 150B of cash pile is a shame for the Steve's name, the greatest marketeer of our time.
Someone has nicely put,
Apple don't make junk products. It follows that there are 2 ways they might move forward from here: They can surely figure out a way.
(1) They figure out how to make a low-cost iPhone that's not junk
(2) They just can't figure it out so can make plastic 3GS (iOS 6 device) and market it aggressively.