China’s Largest E-Tailer Reports Only Five iPhones Sold in Two Weeks
There’s a part in “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” where one of the main characters, upon losing 500,000 British pounds in a rigged poker game and being threatened with gradual dismemberment if unable to pay the debt, walks into a bar. His friends just look up at him and mention “This dinnae look good.”
Per Chinese e-tailer Taobao.com, the site has sold only five iPhone units in its first two weeks of availability on the Web site, which is fairly similar to that line in the movie.
Reportedly, the site has sold just two of the 8GB iPhone 3G, and three of the 16 GB iPhone 3GS. It does not mention any sales of the 32GB iPhone 3GS units.
China Unicom opened its official iPhone store on Taobao.com on Nov. 22. It is the only Web site, aside form the official China Unicom one, where customers can buy official handsets. All purchases are said to be activated before they are shipped.
When the iPhone launched on China Unicom in early November, it sold just 5,000 handsets in its first few days. However, the wireless carrier has said it is satisfied with the device’s performance thus far.
The biggest issue for official iPhones in China is said to be the nation’s gray market. While the high-end iPhone 3GS carries a relatively high price of 6,999 yuan, or $1,024, without a contract, the same handset can be purchased on the gray market in Hong Kong for about $800.
The level of enthusiasm in the nation of over one billion has also been restrained by the lack of Wi-Fi in the official China Unicom iPhone. The feature was left out because the Chinese government temporarily banned the wireless standard in favor of a rival Chinese offering. The ban was relaxed in May, after manufacturing of the phone began, and China Unicom officials expect to have a new Wi-Fi-equipped phone available soon.
Difficulty using the App Store may also play a part.
“Credit cards are increasingly common in China, but their holders rarely use them to make small payments via mobile phone, local consultancy Analysys International said in a research note,” a recent report said. “Credit card penetration also remains low among young people of the sort that would like the App Store, it said. Many Chinese make payments via mobile phone but do so with prepaid cards sold by local carriers. The App Store will need to add new payment options and more localized content to win more users in China.”