If you wondered why Apple’s shares are taking a caning lately, you should look at what is happening to the firm in Asia.
It has been known that Jobs’ Mobs’ expansion plans depended on the cash strapped Chinese to start selling their kidneys to buy the iPhone 5, something which never happened. But it turns out that the disinterest in Steve Jobs’ Walled Garden of Delights is spreading faster than Bird Flu.
Even the Apple cheer site Reuters has to admit that the iPhone is losing some of its sparkle in Singapore and Hong Kong. Ironically, part of the problem is the desire for the Asian markets to “be different” – and the fact that users think Samsung makes better phones.
In 2010, Apple’s products were so dominant in Singapore that more devices ran its iOS operating system per capita than anywhere else in the world.
But according to StatCounter, Apple’s share of mobile devices in Singapore declined sharply in 2012 from a peak of 72 percent in January to just half now. Android devices have 43 percent of the market, up from 20 percent in the same month last year.
In Hong Kong, devices running Apple’s iOS account for about 30 percent of the total, down from about 45 percent a year ago. Android accounts for nearly two thirds.
Market watchers know that where Hong Kong and Singapore lead, other key markets across Asia usually follow. Then the trend often ends up deciding what will be hot or not in the EU and the US.
If that proves right, then it means that Apple could be in big trouble. The Asian markets show that Southeast Asia is adopting smartphones fast and consumers spent 78 percent more on smartphones last year than they did the year before.
Reuters hit the street trying to find why South East Asia would abandon the faith. Part of it appears to be that Android is seen as much better, particularly among 20-something college students and fresh graduates. Most of them were already on Android or planned to switch over.
These were traditionally Apple’s target market and very often the most rabid fanboys.
Napoleon Biggs, chief strategy officer at Gravitas Group, a Hong Kong-based mobile marketing company, said that Samsung’s promotional efforts were playing to an increasingly receptive audience.
Some kids want to stand out from the iPhone-carrying crowd but others like the higher-powered, bigger-screened Android devices better suited to watching videos and writing Chinese characters.
Reuters found users moaning about the iPhone 5’s draining battery and claimed that after Steve Jobs died, it seems the element of surprise in product launches isn’t that great anymore.
In Bangkok, one shop seller said that iPhones were like Louis Vuitton handbags. They had become so commonplace people had lost their cool edge by being seen dead with one.