Today’s a big day for Apple in Asia. Fresh from launching new iPads and Macs in the US on Thursday, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus finally went on sale in China and India today, opening the new phones up to a combined population of more than 2.5 billion people. (They are also now retailing in Monaco, with a more modest population of less than 40,000 people, for what it’s worth.)
China and India may be bedfellows when it comes to vast populations, but the potential impact of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus varies greatly between both countries. The launch is China has been much-anticipated given the country’s surprise omission from the first wave of countries to get the new phones — that, it seems, was down to a delay in the approvals process required by authorities in China — but India Apple caters for a niche market for high-end phones.
So what is the initial response to the bigger iPhones in China?
The situation at Apple Stores in Beijing was far less hectic than for past launches. That may be down to the fact that grey market vendors have been offering the devices (with inflated prices) since it was released in its first markets last month — that means less demand for scalpers, those who buy to resell and would flood launch events and cause chaos — though mainly it is because the phones were on sale via carriers and other retailers from midnight, while more than 20 million pre-orders were logged in advance of today.
— John Sinclair Foley (@johnsfoley) October 17, 2014
Iphone 6 and 6 plus are available in China mainland from Friday; customers wait in line at Beijing’s Apple Store pic.twitter.com/FAmbPPy54Z
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) October 17, 2014
The larger size of the display, particularly the iPhone 6 Plus, could well stir up greater consumer interest and sales in China, where bigger screens have grown in popularity. That said, the cost of the devices means they are too expensive for many in China, even when subsidized by operators. Those with more modest budgets are increasingly draw to a range of phones priced around $300, such as Xiaomi — indeed, Lenovo is launching its own Xiaomi clone, such is demand.
The iPhone 6’s potential in India is entirely different. In a market where disposable incomes are far lower than the West, the prospect of shelling out more than $1,000 on a phone is one that is not possible for everyone.
Apple doesn’t have its own stores in India, but select retailers opened their doors at midnight for those who had pre-ordered either device — although media reported that just 21,000 pre-orders had been made, as of Tuesday this week. While Apple is dealing with 20 million pre-orders and the subsequent post-launch interest in China, it has reportedly shipped just 55,000 iPhone 6 units to India, highlighting the difference in demand.