SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Several Chinese online retailers have offered discounts on Apple Inc’s iPhone 11, Reuters checks on Thursday revealed.
The price drops come as the hardware company braces for an uncertain year for the smartphone sector, as the global spread of the coronavirus dampens demand while Chinese rivals rush out 5G models.
The online store for Suning, a popular Chinese electronics vendor, offers the 64GB version of the iPhone 11 for 4999 yuan ($707.54), a discount of 500 yuan from the price listed on Apple’s official China Website.
The 64GB version of the iPhone 11 Pro Max, meanwhile, sells for 7499 yuan ($1,061.38), a discount of 1600 yuan from the price on Apple’s China website.
Other e-commerce online vendors, including JD.com, Gome, and Dangdang, as well as several authorised Apple resellers on Tmall, the popular site run by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, offer similar price cuts.
For a time, Apple granted little leeway for its Chinese third-party sellers to lower prices.
But in early 2019, several Chinese e-commerce cites dropped prices on number of iPhone models. The cuts arrived as the company faced weak demand in China, in part because of competition from domestic rivals.
Apple’s Tim Cook later said the cuts played a role in helping the company recover sales in China.
The latest round of price cuts comes as Apple prepares for the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
In February, as the virus peaked in China, Cook warned investors that the company would not meet its revenue guidance for the coming quarter amid disruption of both the Chinese supply chain and consumer demand there.
Data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), a branch of the Chinese government, revealed that Apple shipped fewer than 500,000 phones in China that month.
Mo Jia, who tracks the global smartphone industry at research firm Canalys, said that although some smartphone brands have seen sales in China recover as the virus subsides in the country, Apple is not yet one of them.
He attributes the delayed uptake to Chinese brands’ swift rollout of 5G devices, as consumers who are ready to purchase new phones want models compatible with the country’s upgraded telecommunications networks.
“Apple only offers 4G phones and they are expensive compared to their counterparts,” Jia said.
($1 = 7.0653 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Josh Horwitz and the Shanghai newsroom. Editing by Gerry Doyle)