Scheme aims to wean them off cheap handsets from rivals
Apple has underscored its determination to boost sales in China by allowing consumers to buy its devices on credit. The initiative comes less than a week after a visit to the region by Apple CEO, Tim Cook, who met with the region’s biggest player – China Mobile, in a bid to forge new alliances and regain ground lost to the likes of Samsung and Nokia, not to mention homespun makers of cheaper brands.
Now, for the first time, purchasers of Apple iPhones, iPads and other devices costing more than Rmb300 ($48) will be able to buy them on credit through 12 monthly, interest free instalments.
The service will be available to holders of China Merchants Bank credit cards and also accommodates payments in up to 24 instalments, but at an 8.5 per cent interest rate.
Apple hopes that by offering credit it will make its devices more affordable in China where the market is driven largely by by first-time buyers with lower incomes.
Smartphones made by the country’s own manufacturers, led by Lenovo and including the likes of Huawei, ZTE, Coolpad and Gionee, accounted for more than half of sales there in 2012, according to Gartner – the first time home brand sales have overtaken those of imported makes.
Meanwhile Apple’s credit facility is being offered just in time for tomorrow’s [18th January 2013] local launch of its 3G version of the iPad mini.
Apple’s sales in Greater China, including the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, grew 83 per cent to $22.8 billion in the fiscal year to September 2012, a slower rate of growth than previously but still faster than the 46 per cent growth registered in the US market.
When he met with China Mobile’s chairman Xi Guohua last week, Apple’s Tim Cook revealed how he intended to open new stores in the region, adding that he felt China had the ability to become the world’s largest market for smartphones, overtaking even the US.
But key to Apple’s remains a deal with China Mobile which boasts more than 700 million subscribers. In that respect Nokia has already stolen a march with the launch of its flagship Lumia 920 handset, in conjunction with China Mobile, thought to be imminent.