Apple is one of the richest and most successful companies in the world and the iPhone is one of the most famous series of smartphones too. However, 2019 hasn’t been a picture perfect year for the company which has announced that it is seeing slowing iPhone sales in several key regions.
In the United States, Apple’s home country, and in China where the iPhone XR and iPhone XS Max are two of the most popular phones, the iPhone hasn’t been selling as fast as it has done before.
While market saturation and a lack of standout features have led to a decline in sales for most major mobile manufacturers, iPhone sales are really being pinched by Chinese smartphone brands. Chinese names such as OPPO, Xiaomi and Huawei are all driving Apple’s market share down.
Apple’s iPhones have always been expensive but in the last few years, the company has really taken things to a new level. The most expensive version of the iPhone XS Max, with 512GB of storage, cost $1,449 while the cheapest version of the iPhone XR, which has been pitched as a more affordable premium device, costs $750 when purchased brand new. In comparison, the flagship Huawei P30 Pro cost around $950, while the flagship OPPO Reno with 128GB cost around $450.
That’s not to say that Apple fans can’t get an iPhone at an affordable price. Several retailers sell refurbished iPhones for much more affordable prices, with Apple being among them. Refurbished iPhone price comparison platform RefurbMe reveals that the refurbished iPhone XS Max with 512GB is available for $999, which is nearly $500 cheaper than the brand new price. Other iPhone models like the refurbished iPhone 8 cost just $364 which is more than $300 cheaper than the brand new price. However, not everyone knows about these deals.
When looking at a new phone, many people look at specs such as the camera quality, the size of the screen, and the battery life. Another important feature that people examine is the amount of storage that the phone has, as, although cloud storage services like iCloud are popular, these often cost money. Storing files locally is also great for times when you have no Internet connection or don’t want to use your data to get something from the cloud.
Being able to expand that storage with microSD cards is another cool feature to have but it’s not one what that the iPhone offers. iPhone owners have gotten very good at finding ways to make more space on an iPhone, such as clearing out the cache of apps like Snapchat, deleting duplicate images from Photos, and getting rid of apps that they don’t need. However, this storage challenge is what has prompted some to buy phones with microSD card slots from Chinese phone brands.
Apple Doesn’t Have a Strategy for Emerging Markets
Apple has put a huge amount of effort into making its brand strong in the United States and in countries in Western Europe. It has huge retail stores in these locations, where people are able to queue to be among the first to get the new iPhone. It also has many local partnerships with Apple Authorized Resellers and repair teams who are able to sell and repair Apple products.
If you live in an emerging market, though, it’s unlikely that you live near one of these partners or an official Apple store. In regions like sub-Saharan Africa, which is the fastest growing mobile market and where more than 88 million phones are sold each year, Apple has a minimal presence. While OPPO is opening new offices in the EMEA region to grow its brand in Africa and the Middle East, Apple hasn’t got an office on the African continent. A lack of affordable iPhones and iPhones with expandable storage, two important features for African mobile users, is also allowing the company to give up market share to its Chinese rivals.
It would be quite easy to say that Apple could regain its market share by releasing a budget iPhone, putting more resources into Africa, and offering expandable storage options. This would help, but to compete, Apple really needs to study what Chinese mobile brands are doing and not just copy them.