What used to be a status symbol, Apple’s attempts to bring the iPhone to the mass is turning off some of its wealthy and fashion-forward audience in urban Asian cities like Singapore and Hong Kong. Users are looking towards to Android and other platforms and it appears that Samsung and HTC may be benefiting from what is beginning to be labelled as iPhone fatigue.
Perhaps Apple is becoming a bit too successful for its own good. Recent decline in stock prices following the latest earnings report suggest investors are worried, and perhaps there is good reason.
In a report on Reuters, in 2010, Singapore has more iPhone user per capita than any other place in the world. And with tapering demand for iPhones in Asia, Apple may have a larger problem on its hands as Singapore and Hong Kong are trendsetters where key consumer electronics go: “Singapore and Hong Kong tend to be, from an electronics perspective, leading indicators on what is going to be hot in Western Europe and North America, as well as what is going to take off in the region,” said Jim Wagstaff of startup Jam Factory.
The problem? According to one marketing manager in Thailand, the iPhone is simply no longer cool anymore: “iPhones are like Louis Vuitton handbags. It’s become so commonplace to see people with iPads and iPhones so you lose your cool edge having one.”
And when one Singapore entrepreneur tried to launch her iPhone app, she found out that 70 percent of her users–20-something college students and fresh graduates–said they were either using Android or planned to switch over.
As Apple gains success with its flagship smartphone by placing it into more hands of more consumers, the device is losing its cool factor. Add to the problem that the Asian market is not brand loyal and are fickle when it comes to consumer culture, Apple may have a bigger uphill battle on its hands as it tries to steer new product releases this year amidst growing hype, increasing leaks and rumors, and questions about quality control and reliability of its product in a post-Steve Jobs era.
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