3-Minute News on the Chinese Smartphone Market

We are seeing the release of several flagship smartphones in China, and everyone is paying attention. I’m not going to review the gadgets, nor will I forecast how the market might change accordingly. Instead, I am going to report some quick observations.

iPhone 5S

The gold-colored iPhone 5S is being sold in Hong Kong phone marts at a price of 15,000 HKD (nearly 2,000 USD). It goes out of stock daily. It is true that the gold iPhone is in shortage everywhere on Earth because Apple released so few of them. The demand in China is particularly strong, while the West saw some initial backlash against it. To quote one Western consumer review, “Nothing is uglier than a gold iPhone.” Compare this reaction to a Chinese consumer who comments, “Of course I’d buy the gold one. How else would people know I have the latest?”

Galaxy Note 3

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is out this week. Some Western gadget reviewers commented that the new phablet has a lot of pros, but one con— the odd faux-leather plastic back. The back of Note 3 is designed to look like leather (Samsung might want you to think that Note is classy). This reminds me of what we heard in focus groups in China—iPhone and Galaxy S are for the young and fashionable while Galaxy Note is for executives doing serious business.

Xiaomi Mi3

The average consumer outside of China has probably never heard of this unpronounceable smartphone brand. But in China, Xiaomi is gaining enormous popularity. Xiaomi sells its products exclusively via its online store using the so-called hunger marketing approach. In each round of sales, Xiaomi typically releases hundreds of thousands of units, which sell out in just one to two minutes. And millions of reservations are placed simultaneously. Xiaomi is serious in its engineering as well. Its next model Mi3, based on benchmark scores, claims to be nearly 50% faster than the fastest smartphones currently on the market.

My dear readers, what do these observations mean to you? I am reminded that the more we know about international markets, the more we can help a brand succeed.

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