Business / View

Who will buy into the next big thing?

By Wu Yixue (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-26 08:10

Who will buy into the next big thing?


Chinese people's love of the latest fashion craze was once again demonstrated after Apple debuted the iPhone 6 and iPhone Plus.

The absence of the Chinese mainland from Apple's initial list of sales regions failed to dampen the enthusiasm among die-hard Chinese Apple fans. Chinese buyers were reportedly among those lining up in front of Apple stores in the nine countries and regions approved for the first release of the electronic behemoth's latest smartphones.

In order to be among the first to get their hands on these new sought-after fashion accessories, some Chinese buyers even tried to jump a queue, which resulted in a fight with other eager buyers from the Chinese mainland, tarnishing the international image of Chinese people.

The incident happened on Monday in front of an Apple store in New Haven, in the United States, when one group of Chinese was accused of queue jumping by another. Several Chinese were injured in the fracas and local police detained three Chinese people on charges of misconduct and disturbing social order.

Besides such misconduct, which leaves a bad impression overseas, some Chinese have also risked smuggling the new iPhones into the mainland in defiance of relevant State laws and regulations. According to the Shenzhen customs authorities, more than 600 units of the new iPhone had been seized within three days after its launch. They were hidden in packs of coffee, cakes and toothpaste boxes, among other things.

Due to its bigger size and new appearance, the two iPhone 6 models are proving very popular with Apple fans, and the sale of more than 10 million units during the first weekend of its release attests to the popularity of Apple's revamped smartphone.

The new phones sell for a good mark-up in the Chinese market. An iPhone 6 with a storage of 16 gigabytes, which is priced at $199 on the official Apple website, can be sold for more than $1,600 in Zhongguancun, a high-tech area of Beijing with many e-product stores and outlets, after being brought inland from Hong Kong by scalpers. Meanwhile the iPhone 6 Plus is sold for around $2,000, much higher than its original price of $299.

However, the higher prices have failed to dent the enthusiasm of buyers. One shop owner in Zhongguancun told the media that although there were 300 new iPhones in stock a day earlier, there were only 20 left on Sunday.

However, the demand is also fueled by those who see owning the latest Apple product as a symbol of social status.

To buy their favored fashion products, some Chinese, especially young people, are said to be willing to cut their limited spending on such basic needs as clothes and foods. There was even a media report about a teenager selling one of his kidneys in exchange for the new device. While it is true that China has a big population of smartphone users and people have become richer than ever, people's incomes are still at a low level compared with the world's average, not to mention those of developed countries.

So such reports highlight the hot-headed and irrational decisions some people are willing to make in their attempts to appear more than they are in our status conscious society.

But while the popularity of the latest products is a reflection of their appeal to users and the successful positioning of the products as fashion accessories, the fast development of new technology means it is inevitable they will be replaced by the next big thing very soon, and it remains to be seen whether it will be wearing the familiar bite-out-of-an-apple logo. In this sense, the popularity of the iPhone 6 is just a flash in the pan.

The author is a senior writer with China Daily.

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