iPhone's prospects

07 Jul 2008

The iPhone is due to hit the streets in Asia at the end of the week: will the region's finicky consumers accept it‾

A reporter from wire service AFP asked concludes it might be a tough sell.

Sure, no prestige goods company went broke selling product in Asia. But sheer ubiquity might go against Apple - as one Hong Kong consumer says, if everyone has one, it might just lose its appeal.

Equally predictably, a Japanese analyst said the Japanese market was different and that, indeed, the iPhone isn't particularly advanced compared with what is already available.

But it's a fair bet Asian consumers will take to the iPhone with the same alacrity as in North America. Asian societies are mobile-centric and people take a lot of care and pride in their mobile devices.

Remember that an estimated 400,000 iPhones have already shipped to mainland China through gray channels - nearly 10% of all iPhones sold.

China remains the missing piece in the iPhone story. China Mobile CEO Wang Jianzhou last week said the "major obstacles" to an agreement with Apple had been eliminated - that is, Apple had dropped its earlier demand for revenue share.

But a deal is some time away, according to the China Times newspaper on the weekend. The two are still holding talks, but the parties are still "waiting for breakthroughs" on specific issues, a source said.

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