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Colorful iPhones, not attractive enough?

Updated: 2013-09-11 17:24
By Eric Jou ( chinadaily.com.cn)

After months of speculation and leaked information, Apple announced the release date and the pricing of two new iPhones, the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S, at a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday - a first of it's kind, signaling their new focus on developing markets.

Surprisingly, Apple chose to not stream their Tuesday morning Cupertino press conference, preferring to meet with a group of journalists in their Beijing office on Wednesday Beijing time, where they showed a video of the very same press conference from Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Apple Computers show cased the newest additions to its popular iPhone smart phone line. On Wednesday morning in Beijing, they showed the hour-plus long video of Tuesday's press conference.

There was no mention of telecom partnerships with China Mobile, China's largest mobile telecom provide during the China press conference. It was exactly the same as the company's US press conference.

Unlike previous years, this time the new iPhone announcement was marred by online information leaks, something which Apple made fun of during the press conference.

Apple promises this new phone is the best phone, the "gold standard for phones".

Featuring a new, more powerful camera and more powerful processors, the new iPhone comes with a new security feature, a fingerprint scanner built into the home button.

Along with the annual specs upgrade and software update, another new product, the iPhone 5C, was announced. It has the same specifications as the original iPhone 5 but it is made of plastic instead of metal and glass. The plastic casing is reminiscent of the iPhone 3Gs.

Much speculation over recent months has concerned the price of the iPhone 5C. Analysts and aficionados had originally called for a mid-tier iPhone geared towards emerging markets. However the pricing for the iPhone 5C is higher than some anticipated. At $733 the new iPhone 5C is anything but cheap in China, where local competitors' offerings go for around $408.

Pricing for the 5s will start at $864.

"The new iPhone5S will continue to cater to Apple's main customer base," said Sandy Shen, an analyst with Gartner China. "The iPhone5C however is probably too expensive to grow Apple's market, making the new iPhones both more expensive products."

According to Shen, this means Apple is still focused on the high-end market and is continuing to try to extend the life cycle of their iPhone 5 line.

This will also be the first time the iPhone will be released simultaneously in the US and in China. There was no mention of when the phones will be released in Hong Kong, normally one of the first regions the devices launch in, during the press conference. A quick look on the Apple Store HK website shows that Hong Kong also will be launching the phones during the first wave. There is no word on when a Taiwan launch will occur.

It's interesting to point out that the Western price for the iPhone 5S is equivalent to the prices of the iPhone 5c in China. On the Canadian Apple Store website, the iPhone 5S 16 GB model starts at 719 CAD, roughly the same price as the 4288 RMB iPhone 5C in China.

Despite the announcement that the new iPhones will also simulataneously in China as it will in the US, locals in Beijing didn't seem too excited. Some passersbys in Beijing's Guomao financial district were also confused by the launch of the iPhone 5S and 5C.

"I don't see a clear difference between the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C," said bank clerk Zhao Wenting. "There doesn't seem to be a need to launch two very similar products."

Another banker, Ding Lei, said he wasn't interested in shopping Apple in the near future. Citing pricing and a lack of innovation, Ding says he's not happy with the post-Steve Jobs direction of the company.

Even though the detractors were many, there were still some loyal to the cult of Apple. Civil engineer Ma Ji said that if price weren't an issue he'd choose the new iPhone in a heartbeat. But even with Apple's most staunchest defenders in Beijing, price still seemed to be an issue.

It's interesting to point out that the Western price for the iPhone 5S is equivalent to the prices of the iPhone 5c in China. On the Canadian Apple Store website, the iPhone 5S 16 GB model starts at 719 CAD, roughly the same price as the 4288 RMB iPhone 5C in China.

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