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Analysts expect slow sales for iPhone 5

By Zhao Qian (Global Times)

08:25, September 24, 2012

After retail sales of Apple's iPhone 5 started in Hong Kong Friday, some of the handsets made their way into the mainland market over the weekend, where official sales are not expected to start for at least another two months.

But consumers' enthusiasm is not high so far, partly because of the inflated prices, and also because mainland mobile phone users' current subscriber identity module (SIM) cards are incompatible with the iPhone 5.

The official price of a 16G version of the iPhone 5 is HK$5,588 ($721) in Hong Kong. But the price reached as high as 8,900 yuan ($1,406) in Beijing Sunday.

"We just stock a few sets from Hong Kong to test consumers' reaction, but so far we have only sold one, at a price of 8,800 yuan," a saleswoman surnamed Huang at Zhongke Telegraph Co in Zhongguancun, a technology hub in Haidian district, Beijing, told the Global Times.

"The price is at too high a level, but it may possibly decline in around two weeks," Huang said.

In Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province, a shop called Guangzhou Safari Apple Store was selling the 16G iPhone 5 for 8,100 yuan Sunday.

"So far we have not sold any of the handsets," the store's salesman Xiao Zhi told the Global Times.

"Chinese mobile phone users cannot insert the SIM cards they currently use into the iPhone 5, which only supports a new type of nano-SIM card, and neither China Mobile nor China Unicom has officially launched the new card so far," Ji Chendong, a senior IT consultant at auditor KPMG (China), told the Global Times.

Ji said there is no obvious innovation in the iPhone 5 compared with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s, so it is unlikely that Apple will witness another surge in sales when official sales of the new model start in the Chinese mainland.

"Apart from loyal Apple fans with a high income, such as white-collar workers and executives, most current users of iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S models are less likely to upgrade. They have only bought them relatively recently, and probably won't change to the new model," Ji noted.

Apple announced on September 17 that international preorders for its iPhone 5 had reached 2 million in the first 24 hours, double the record set by the previous iPhone 4S model, Xinhua News Agency reported. Preorders are not available in the Chinese mainland, however.

"iPhone 5 preorders have shattered the previous record held by the iPhone 4S and the customer response to the iPhone 5 has been phenomenal," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

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