Apple products are hitting the Chinese market a lot quicker than they used to in the past, with the Apple’s most current version of its MacBook Air planned to be released in the country this sometime month.
Chinese consumers once had to suffer a long wait before Apple’s latest products formally arrived into the country. In the event of the iPhone, more than two years went by between Apple’s release of the iconic smartphone and the start of official shipments to China in late 2009.
But this year, Apple has introduced the iPhone 4 and the iPad in China in no more than six months after their U.S. release. Apple now states it plans on delivering its new MacBook Air laptop in China around mid November, just about a month after its start in the U.S.
By releasing the company’s products in a shorter time to the Chinese market, analysts say Apple is acquiring consumers away from the country’s grey market, where local vendors will first buy the product overseas only to bring it over to China to sell.
But the company has a way to go ahead of taking a hefty share in specified areas of China’s tech market. For smartphones, the company states a 5.9 percent market share, corresponding to Analysis International, a Beijing based research firm .
In China’s PC market, Apple’s share is also tinier, at 0.7 percent, says Simon Ye, an analyst at research company Gartner.
“Apple represents a very small niche market,” he said, adding that the company’s notebook computers are too expensive for the common Chinese consumer. Apple’s brand new MacBook Air will cost 7998 yuan (US$1,206) in China.
Chinese customers are in addition not happy with how Apple’s iOS products rely on the company’s App Store or iTunes to buy software or media, Ye added.
“A lot of Chinese consumers are in the habit of acquiring free software for the computers,” he said. “Only a small number of people who have the buying power and have a liking for Apple’s products will be interested in this new notebook.”
The Apple brand name however, is developing into more popular in China, that will only encourage more sales, analysts say. Much of this is actually driven by the iPhone 4, which was newly unveiled in China in September. The device continues to sell out in some stores, even as Apple says it is bringing in more stock.
At that same time, Apple has been working to magnify its presence in the country. The company now has four Apple suppliers in China, two of them opened in September. Last month, Apple has also debuted a new online store in China.
As more people in China purchase the iPhone 4 or the iPad, they will naturally want to contemplate buying other Apple products like the MacBook Air, said Liu Liang, an analyst with consulting group iResearch.
“Apple’s influence is growing in China,” he said. “The iPhone has triggered other people to think about trying other Apple products.