APPLE NEEDS A STRATEGY FOR ASIA. PERIOD.

Samsung along Androids flood the market here.

GALAXY Y
This is a cheapest dishonest, mean, pitiable, shabby, sordid version of iPhone 3GS, Anyone?

I’ve been running a small Apple products related shop in Colombo suburbs in Sri Lanka and have seen how our markets behave.

1. Our mobile market is very active and lucrative business right now growing super fast as anywhere else.

2. As anything else it IS preliminarily price sensitive.

3. We have very competitive GSM market with 5 neck-to-neck operators in a small 65,610 square kilometers. (Dialog GSM, Mobitel, Etisalat, Hutch and Airtel)

4. Few have repeatedly tried a subsidized model without any sort of success. Subsidized phones with contracts can not be sold here even if the phone is FREE given. Contract free, top-up, SIM swappable phones sell like hot cakes. We are a predominantly a prepaid market.

5. At the current market price (20.05.2013) cheapest new iPhone 5 costs Rs.100,000/- or 795USD here. Whatever brand recognition or hype Apple has, which is waning now 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 Applacoholic. Rs.1 LAK is a mind barrier.

6. Our market always had phones for every sweet market spot. Traditional cheap Nokia and Chinese phones, luxury Nokia and Samsung clan had anyway got it all covered. From 20USD Feature phone to near 900USD Nokia N95 marketing had always flooded the market from the past.

7. Phones were phones, all dumb phones. None expected more than that unless a fashion or status statement as Nokia Vertu or the latest flagships according to the time.

In 2007 Apple iPhone DID change all that, everywhere.

8. Now after 6 years we (Asia) still don’t get iPhones. Walk in to any phone shop, they all have but condemn Chinese Androids and now recommend Samsung Galaxy as the De-facto Smartphone over once dominant Nokia. And the cheapest piece of Samsung Android sells as Galaxy Y (Android 2.3) for Rs. 15,000/- or 99USD a sweet package. Roughly a monthly wage of young worker.

9. After iOS 6.0 maps debacle and near impossible iPhone unlocking, bricking new bootrom 3GS killed even the refurbished market dead which I was based on. So from last year Apple advocate me and my company also had to start offering Android without having any other resort for us to survive.

10. No official iPhone (3GS, 4, 4S or 5) can be obtained by any of the 5 operators we have. Not even the grey market here now have iPhones for the above reason either.

11. Samsung is the new SONY. From TVs, to Smartphones to the electronics. Samsung is now well renowned, positioned and portrayed as the highest profile consumer brand and riding the waves. Locals have bad perception for Chinese. But they also catching up. No one knows nor they care that Samsung DID copied Apple or use the off-the-shelf Android. Or what is the real values of the Apple ecosystem can bring in for the users, as an option of choice at least. Most they want is to go online, Facebook, Google, play a game and have fun on their phones, have VOICE calls on their tablets. Quality, value, integrity and market differentiation apart Android now provides it all. I guess this is exactly the way commodity PC market grew on the 80’s and even my neighbor Indian market is heating up.

12. iPad has no Voice Calling Facility has perceived as very negative for Apple tablets here. More than Samsung, cheap Chinese Tabs which runs the latest Andy 4.2.2 sold in this regard.

13. Apple iOS 6.0 update brought few real surprise for the Apple’s remaining fanfare here. Google Maps which always had worked near perfect for them, which any darn corner of the street name can be looked upon was suddenly gone. Apple crowd was pretty used to it. Now Apple Maps killed the chance even to search the main cities here I live in, Imagine?

14. Samsung and carrier backed Android marketing is in full swing! Apple brand name is never heard of in any of the media circles for new breed of people who look at my iPad units at demo desk and ask, what is this tab? Is it Chinese? Don’t you guys have Galaxies? What the heck?

15. There was a notion Apple is considered a BMW to a Toyota. Not quite, I never buy that, not quite so in consumer electronics.

16. Where is Apple? From my point 8 to 15 Apple has no iPhone to showcase. So Apple is not been in the talk show lately.

17. Even car DVD setup and TV market is now warming up to Android embedded devices. When they all come in 4.3 Jellybean it’s almost iOS for almost everyone here.

If Apple don’t make junk products. There should be some ways they might move forward from here: They can surely figure out a way.

A cheaper strategy that do not hinder Apple’s own values better be put in to action soon.

I can see 2 ways around this.

(i) They figure out how to make a low-cost iPhone that’s not “piece of junk” (Well Galaxy S3 Mini)

(ii) They just can’t figure it out so can make the old 3GS or plastic iPhone 5 as unlocked iOS 7 device and market it aggressively.

Just look at the Samsung portfolio you will soon see how to differentiate. I know it is a soup of 90 devices a year marathon. But it DID remarkably well to established the Android Platform for Google and Galaxy Brand for Samsung. So ain’t Apple smart enough to figure out at least three (5 ideally) sweet market spots out of this soup???

As far as I can see this doesn’t have to be a demographics view, rather price and feature points, hardware or software differentiation for people with various needs who don’t care about the other.

You cater them all or soon you will be serving no one.

iPhone Category 1

Generally the cheapest iPod/ feature iPhone for

1. School/ Education (Safety/ Being in touch/ Locate/ Academic Apps) 2. Early Teenage/ Laborer/ Worker (Fun/ hyped/ iPod Nano like/ Basic Apps)

iPhone Category 2

Average Premium iPhone for

3. Late Teenage/ Worker/ Starter Executive (Fun/ Work/ Special Features/ Laser Measurements/ IR)
4. Junior Executive/ Manager (Management/ Work/ Special Features/ Projector/ Laser Pointer/ NFC)

iPhone Category 3

High Premium Designer iPhone for

5. Affluent/ Celebrity (Hype)
6. Specific high-skill professional market (Photographer, Doctor, Scientist, eCommerce/ Merchants)

This is at least 3 iPhone models. When Apple don’t respond to the market. This is happening right now .

In the Asian market.

i. Someone who makes a smartphone that is basically as good as the iPhone-or at least “good enough”- which radically undercut the iPhone on price and features. Now showing, Samsung Galaxy low end and other Chinese Android copies. They gather up the volumes.

That’s what tends to happen in consumer technology markets. And Apple’s massive profit margin leaves it highly exposed to this kind of competition.

ii. If a high-end smartphone market radically undercuts the iPhone on price, Apple will either be forced to sit and watch as it loses sales to the cheaper competitor-or match the competitor’s price. This is what Verizon did with original Droid which kicked off Android, it didn’t have much effect then on Apple there, but got wings in the Asia when Samsung dig it deeper. “Thermonuclear War” Anyone?

For Eg: Samsung still sells S3 and even S4 now 100USD cheaper than iPhone 5 now

Then this has to alter a bit of Apple iPad internals too. Mini and big iPad seems ok. But they sure has to be integrate two main features missing now seem to be a main-stream here, though iPad is the declining pioneer.

i. Add Voice Calling Facility
ii. Integrate handwriting Wacom Pen for productivity apps

Macs had long relationship with Wacom. I used it on my Mac since year 2000. I wonder how it slip through an Apple and got in to bed with Samsung? Samsung S Pen is high productive seller for professionals. Even software guys I know now prefer it over iPad.

I hope Apple make itself heard this chapter very clearly.

Goes unheard, Other than that I have personal business which I like to be Apple success focused, I have no personal bearings on this. I either can sell Apple,Samsung or Chinese brands in my shop for the same profit margins, sometimes even higher margins cos I portrait them against Apple prices. But I like the choice to be remain viable for my customers. Like what Mac vs PC brought to the world on personal perspectives. Any gain or market loss for Apple is a market loss for the Apple platform, hence iTunes, iPods and future Macs innovations to come. Killing it for whatever the ignorance with that 150B of cash pile is a shame to the man we all knew as Steve, the greatest visionary-marketeer of our time.

Platform Wars was or is as fierce as or more fearsome in the 2012 as the 90s Windows PC vs Apple Mac outcome.

I am sure Apple don’t feel the heat yet, but it’s apparent:

It’s all over 80 to 90 all out Mac-PC war again. Since PC won we consumers got lost the real choice and suffocated the PC innovation waves up until Apple itself shakes it with iPad. Bear in mind this had a long serious negative effect on both hardware and software innovation for years.

To wait another decade that to happen in mobile again is nightmare!

NB: After I wrote this article these reports come from India. Now Apple is reportedly pushed out of top 5 mobile players in India. I imagine this picture will be much worse, if Apple do not act on this fall 2013. Period.

Apple in India

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