Is Asia tiring of the iPhone?

By , Jan 28, 2013

asian apple store

Are iPhone owners going through the Asian version of the 7-year-itch? Once head over heels in love with Apple’s iPhone, many consumers in Singapore and Hong Kong are straying, increasingly adopting Android devices. The iPhone could be a victim of its own success as some Asian Apple fans increasingly turn to Samsung as a way to show they are different from the crowd.

From Hello Kitty to crazy game shows, the West traditionally turns to the East for cutting-edge trends. The latest import could be a wave of anti-iPhone sentiment sweeping the Pacific Rim. One Asian nation has gone from one of the world’s largest iOS markets to a doubling of Android devices. Are we witnessing the beginnings of  ’iPhone fatigue?’…

The iPhone is “a victim of changing mobile habits and its own runaway success” in Hong Kong and Singapore, Reuters reports Monday.

In the case of Singapore, just 50 percent of that nation’s mobile devices are now powered by iOS – down from 72 in January 2012. Meanwhile, Android devices rose to 43 percent of the market, up from 20 percent since the start of last year.

Elsewhere, in Hong Kong, iOS has slid to 30 percent of the market, down from around 45 percent a year ago. During the same time, Android is used by almost 75 percent of mobile consumers there.

What’s the cause for the iPhone’s eclipse among the wealthy and hip Asian consumer? One possible reason: Apple no longer is the only ‘cool’ technology available.

iPhone 5 launch in China 001

While still seen as a “prestigious brand” one Singapore developer told Reuters “there are just so many cool smartphones out there now that the competition is just much stiffer.”

In both Singapore and Hong Kong, the white earbuds of iPhones are being replaced with Samsung devices – Apple’s chief Android rival. One Singapore app developer said 70 percent of her audience – young college students and graduates in their 20s – already own an Android phone or intend to switch.

Along with developers turning to Android, dollars are also migrating from iOS. Reuters quotes a Hong Kong-based mobile marketer who says Apple retains its premium pricing while Samsung is promoting its alternative.

Apple store (Nanjing East, China, exterior 001)

In Bangkok, another market (who owns a Samsung Galaxy S3) likens iPhones to designer handbags.

“It’s become so commonplace to see people with iPads and iPhones so you lose your cool edge having one”, Narisara Konglua told the news service. At Coca Cola assistant manager in Jakarta echoed the same sentiment, saying the iPhone used to be cool until nearly everyone owned one.

Unlike US iPhone owners, which tend to stay with Apple year after year, mobile users in Hong Kong and Thailand are described as “very fickle” and “not very brand loyal,” tending to follow the latest trend.

apple store china line

Indeed, some credit the explosion of Samsung fans to the growing interest in K-Pop. (Don’t know anything about K-Pop? Talk to your teen or pre-teen for clues.)

But should we dismiss the fashion-fickle young Asian market?

Not totally.

iPad introduction 201004 (Steve Jobs demo 001)

After all, Asia is part of the “emerging market” we so often hear as fueling the future growth for both Apple and Android. In fact, Southeast Asia is a red-hot market. Consumers there increased smartphone spending by 78 percent in 2012 as compared to 2011, Reuters reports.

There are some clues Apple could use in this trend report, however. Foremost, Asian consumers love larger screens both to accomodate Chinese writing, but also to display movies, an increasingly popular use of smartphones.

Another competitive move would be to promote the iPhone in a more price-conscious way. However, some differences between the current Apple and past leadership cannot be changed.

“After Steve Jobs died, it seems the element of surprise in product launches isn’t that great anymore,” remarked a young ad executive based in Hong Kong.

What about you?

Feeling the iPhone fatigue yet?

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  • Falk M.

    Sooner or later everyone wants to be different from the Samsung folks again and use something else.

    If THAT is what draws them there, well, it won’t last long either.

    Then again, there’s too much Apple’s slacking at, so I guess they won’t necessarily come back to iOS.

    I have a lot of hope left though, thanks to Jony Ive I think we’ll see some very good changes to the better and Apple + pressure can produce some AWESOME stuff.
    Apple + comfortable lead = meh (in terms of bringing new stuff to the table)

    • Guest

      Right, haveing used iPhones for about 5 years i wanted something new and exiting, so i switches to a Galaxy S3 June last year, but after just 6 months i was rid of the cheap build quality and poor UI of the phone that i tried a Lumia 920, which to be honest was a great device despite its thickness and cheap vibration sound. Only thing i missed were the apps so i switched back to the iPhone 5 and i’m glad to done so. Anyway, i think 2013 is going to be an exiting year for iOS aswell as Android and Windows Phone.

    • http://twitter.com/El_Barto_01 El Barto

      Switchers will switch, android to iPhone and iPhone to android..

      • Falk M.

        No shit.

        It’s not happening for no reason however.
        If you pretended that to be the case, you’re not doing yourself a favor.

  • planetcoalition

    In the case of Hong Kong, people there slavishly follow fads and trends. Most of them are not aware of technology and decide to follow their friends’ advice. Brand loyalty doesn’t exist there too, because they don’t feel being tied in an ecosystem, namely the iTunes Store and App Store, for example, because piracy is rampant there. They take cracking apps into consideration when purchasing a device.

    I’m fairly certain people will tire of the Samsung phones sooner or later because of the exact same reasons. Most people there do not download apps from the Google Play store. They download cracked apks from other soures.

    • seyss

      “because piracy is rampant there”
      wut? iOS is billions of years ahead in security than Android. Android is fully open to piracy (just get an APK and install it)
      in iOS you have to jailbreak first

      • SirPsycho

        That is his point.

  • adam

    ive owned an iphone since 2008. ive always loved them but as technology changes they need to be open to cool new things to add to the iPhone. every new model of iPhone comes with a small change to its appearence and not very many new features. the biggest problems with the iphone are the cost of everything from accessories to the cost of the phones and the inability for customization. there are so many posibilities to make the iphone better. i think apple needs to seriously rethink their attempt at making a “simple” phone and take a lesson from android.

    • farthead

      rethink simplicity…
      apples simplicity is what makes them apple . they will never change and simple is what makes their devices intuitive and beautiful.
      jesus

      • http://www.facebook.com/bulletproofme William Huang

        simple? I beg to differ. Forcing senseless continued shrinking of the sim card? only using iTunes? unable to delete photos easily & confusing photo album management? fixed to only apple’s standards for music and movie filetypes? confusing (for beginner users) app for iTunes, Music, podcasts, movies …. ?

        I use iphone 5, and it will be simpler and easier to use once i can install back some jailbreak tweaks.

      • adam

        completely agree. they give you hardly any options to change settings but the phone is still more complicated for beginners than most devices

      • adam

        its called innovation. did you even read the article? its obvious apple is losing its spark and if they want to keep their customers and attract new ones they need to start making a phone the way their customers want it

  • Guest 69

    I’ve been to Hong Kong last week, and honestly, Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is so so so successful there. Like all the people there has it. You could easily distinguish what’s the latest trend out there. It is like iPhone VS Blackberry in America. And it is just super crazy. But i think it is good for them, esp. they’ve been using the S Pen to text easily and effectively.

    And I, 100% agree with this “After Steve Jobs died, it seems the element of surprise in product launches isn’t that great anymore.”

  • http://twitter.com/El_Barto_01 El Barto

    Why people get android? Trend? Better? Great design? Apps? NO, they are looking for cheap phones..that’s why..apple appeals to the “upper” class well off Asians. The other 2 billions are looking to save money since they aren’t making as much as the rest..ever think about why not everyone can or should own an iPhone?

  • Guest

    personally, i couldnt agree more with this post because, really i do feel that Apple is releasing their devices and technology too fast i mean the releasing upgraded version isnt the problem. the problem is that they are releasing their devices too quickly, too quickly that people not no longer feel as excited as when the iphone 4 had been announced..

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      the upgrades are too small and too frequent..

  • pauleebe

    Apple is a very young company in an International sense, and still is learning a lot about how to operate well in markets other than the USA. Seeing as Samsung is an Asian company that’s been established there longer, this comes as no surprise.

    Plus … iPhones are very expensive outside of North America and Europe …

  • Wassim Omais

    As long as there are people working on jailbreaks, I will never abandon a beast like the iPhone 5 .

  • Milo

    I’m from Singapore and it’s true that many people are selling away their iPhone and changing to Samsung S3 and Note 2. The main reason is because their screen are bigger and their battery last longer. We have to admit that Samsung technology is now better than Apple and they know how to meet the needs of consumer. Apple is always living in their own world and if they continue like that they’re gonna lose out.

    • pauleebe

      Screen bigger? Yes. Battery better? Haven’t heard of that for the S3. Better phone? I guess if size is everything …

      Samsung has taken more risks this year and has definitely emerged in 2013 as a competitor to Apple. But Apple is facing an uphill battle in a territory that is home to Samsung, and where carriers have come to resent it.

      • jilex

        i just know a guy who has a iPhone 5 (it’s expensive in Mexico) and my GS3 battery last’s a lil’ bit longer, but never really tested it tho

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      i agree apple is boring but android sucks too much sorry

      • TriguyRN

        Why does android suck?

  • Aaron de Silva

    3 reason why Singapore has turned to Samsung:
    1) We don’t have good apple support from our carriers.
    2) Carriers are pushing sales for android.
    3) People are tired of the same iOS.

    • Hyr3m

      1 reason why the world has turned away from Apple :
      1) Apple sucks!

      • Kurt

        you forgot number 2…
        2) Apple sucks!

      • Hyr3m

        yeah but that one goes without saying xD

      • coolbui

        Faggots

      • Hyr3m

        Are you a vegetarian ?

    • Rishab Jaswal

      I agree with you I live in India and i wish apple adds siri support for Indian accent though apple gets so many customers from india still you cant navigate in india with siri ,you cant look for movies or restaurants in india

  • Whatever

    in Asia, iPhone? No. iPad? Yes

    • Kurt

      ipad is great…iphone is featureless

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=508445902 Manoj Keswani

    Aaron de Silva • 3 hours ago

    3 reason why Singapore has turned to Samsung:
    1) We don’t have good apple support from our carriers.
    2) Carriers are pushing sales for android.
    3) People are tired of the same iOS.

  • http://twitter.com/zappocalypse Praveen

    True. Even I have in to a HTC after being attached to an iPhone for 2 years.

  • Kurt

    here in korea (the one without nukes) you can buy the iphone for free. people just dont want it when there are better home grown phones. iphone 3gs, 4, and 4s did very well here. almost every phone you saw was one of those. now, almost no one has it. its an amazing abrupt change. we have gsIII and note 2, why go for a more expensive phone that has less features? because its made more metal? its not what people really want. they want to be wowed.

  • SwitchingToSamsung

    Why ??? because most features are not useable or make for the Asian context that’s why. Iphone are primarily made for the US market and later for Europe.

  • http://twitter.com/Davidlim26 David lim

    Switchers gonna switch.

  • BoardDWorld

    This is due to Samsung’s absolutely “massive” 12 billion investment marketing their devices. Based in Asia I know it’s extremely hard to get hold of an iPhone or iPad for 3-4 months into their release. Patience is not most peoples virtue…