The Smartphone Endgame: Who wins once shipment volumes peak?

AppleInsider wrote about The Smartphone Endgame: Who wins once shipment volumes peak?.

For decades, market research firms have been confidently asserting that the “winners” in PCs, tablets, smartphones and other consumer electronics are not firms that are profitable or even sustainable, but merely those shipping the largest volumes at any given time. This has enabled them to crown a successive line of failed players, then rapidly move on to a new “winner,” often within the same year.

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How excited would you be if you were named ’employee of the year’ twice in a row, while a fellow employee earned more than 45 times your salary while working smarter, not harder? Would you feel like a winner, or would you feel like you needed a new strategy, with less pats on the back and more money in the bank?

Now imagine its 2018, and you’re not even employee of the year anymore, and you’re still not making enough money to pay rent, let alone plan for the future in a very competitive market. How do you feel about your life now? Feel like a “winner,” coasting on your past performance headlines and dusty employee of the year plaques?

An even better question: does IDC, Strategy Analytics, Tech Crunch and virtually every other tech journalist and researcher on the planet really think that the key to winning in smartphones is to be hailed as turning in the most shipments and the greatest percentage of shipment growth for a limited period of time, while earning virtually nothing to show for it?

I would say it is fair to pursue market share in the first few years but work to translate that into decent profit. But it is not always that easy. Once consumers are used to seeing the brand as a cheap option, they would be not be that likely to switch to a high end model of that same brand.

Let’s say you have a Toyota Vios. Would you choose to upgrade to a high end Toyota model or would you swap for an Audi, BMW, Mercedes or even a Lamborghini or Ferrari, assuming that all costs involved in that upgrade are equal?

The costs of brand image and marketing do bring in value, both tangible and intangible. Instead of trying to capture more market share through making a loss or breaking even, selling premium models with decent margins result in profits that can be used to build up a better brand reputation.

Market share will increase while there is still a market for new phone users, but that is on the decline and new markets start to decrease. It doesn’t help that there will be competitors entering the market to fight for their own market share in a saturated market.

This reminds me of the old adage about winning the battle and losing the war.

Apple sold less iPhones but generated more revenue

Jason Snell charted the Apple Q1 2018 earnings.

Clickbait articles will make a fuss about less iPhones sold. And many people will think it’s a sign that the iPhone X was a flop.

Let’s look at the figures. Year-over-year iPhone unit sales decreased by around 1% but revenue increased 6%. Doesn’t that mean that the iPhone X was the right move?

Operations of Apple’s iCloud services in China are about to be transferred to a company in Guizhou

TechNode reported that operations of Apple’s iCloud services in China are about to be transferred to a company in Guizhou.

In November, Apple has been accused of relying on students working illegal overtime to build the iPhone X, through Foxconn, which manufactures the devices in Zhengzhou.

This is completely unrelated to the transfer of iCloud’s service but the author chose to plug it at the end of the article to bait clicks.

JD.com launches supermarket chain to compete with rival Alibaba

E27 reported that JD.com launched its supermarket chain to compete with rival Alibaba.

Beyond that 7Fresh will also provide shoppers with the option of having their groceries delivered to their homes within 30 minutes.

This is an extension of the company’s emphasis on their delivery service. JD.com, or Jingdong as we call it in China, leads the Chinese market in terms of delivery speeds and service. Order before 10 am and JD promises same day delivery. Order before 11 pm and they deliver the next day.

And most of the products, with the exception of perishable or sensitive items, you get 7 days return period. Don’t like what you bought? Return it with no questions asked and the delivery guy will come to your doorstep to collect the item. No need to box the item and ship it back yourself.

Walmart delivers groceries in the same day, provided it is not too late in the day, else it would be a delivered the following morning. I’m curious what the delivery terms are for 7Fresh. Walmart delivers within 3 kilometres for orders above RMB 100.

There’s a Hema nearby but I’ve only been there once.

Sheer scale of the staggering size of the Chinese market

Tech in Asia reported that Singapore’s oBike reaches 10m rides but lags far behind rivals.

OBike, a bike-sharing startup founded in Singapore, has just reached 10 million rides since it was founded in January 2017. However, the homegrown company is still lagging behind Ofo and Mobike, its far-larger rivals from China.

Ofo, backed by Alibaba, announced in December last year that it saw 32 million rides a day. Meanwhile, Mobike clocked 20 million daily rides as of April 2017 and has Tencent in its corner.

A lot of people have a hard time grasping the staggering scale in China. The daily rides for Ofo and Mobike are several times that of what OBike manages in a year. Wrap your head around that.

Alipay and WeChat Pay could be affected by PBOC’s QR code standards

E27 reported that Alipay and WeChat Pay could be affected by PBOC’s QR code standards.

Safety issues have emerged over barcode payments, particularly over fixed codes typically seen at restaurant counters. These are sometimes swapped by criminals who intercept payments. Setups that create a new code for each transaction are more secure.

Alipay and WeChat Pay QR codes stickers are more common at convenience stores and smaller businesses. Many restaurants and stores have switched to new POS systems that uses a handheld to scan the customer’s QR code, such as the one seen in the article’s featured photo.

Dear Singapore govt, please remember the stragglers in the tech revolution

E27 wrote a piece about the seed of the tech revolution.

They are going to ask what the hell a “QR code” is, to which either a customer and or store owner will painstakingly but patiently (good luck finding that) guide them through the steps of downloading the app, linking up their bank accounts, hope to God the phone doesn’t malfunction.

That is the crux of the problem. Are there stragglers in China too? It’s a definite yes. The big difference is how willing people are to help one another in China. Strangers will gladly show you how to operate the apps, not to mention trained staff. They even help others to utilise the apps to make use of vouchers or claim promotions through Alipay or WeChat Pay.

It is not the speed of change. It is how people adapt to change.

‘Arena of Valor’ for iOS

Tools and Toys wrote about ‘Arena of Valor’ for iOS.

After giving it a few hours of play, I can see why AoV was so popular overseas. It’s basically a mobile repackaging of League of Legends — which makes sense, since Tencent owns the company behind that game — meaning that online players select from an almost absurd number of heroes and then face off in a 5v5 format on a three-“lane” battlefield, each team attempting to destroy the other’s turrets and base.

It is not just because it’s a mobile version of LoL, the game is a success in China because gameplay is so simple that the game has such a high penetration among all age groups and has a strong female gamer base. It’s not surprising that 9 out of 10 people you randomly approach would have the game on their phone.

It is very common to walk into cafes or restaurants and see groups of friends teaming up.

Apple faces lawsuits and lukewarm sales forecasts as year comes to a close

E27 published a click-bait post about Apple facing lawsuits and lukewarm sales forecasts as year comes to a close.

The iPhone X may have just been released to much fanfare and adulation, but Apple is already cutting down on production orders in January next year, amid falling demand.

Yon wrote that Apple is cutting down production orders because of falling demand. How does he come to this conclusion?

Several analysts interviewed by Bloomberg have cut their iPhone X shipment projections by five to 10 million. New York-based research firm JL Warren Capital said that the iPhone X’s “high price point and lack of interesting innovations” were to blame for the lukewarm reception.

His claim is based on analysts reviewing their shipment projects, not an actual Apple announcement or even a figure based on the production order. So the analysts are in charge of making Apple’s production orders.

How does he know that reception for the iPhone X has been lukewarm? Because the analysts changed their minds?

The Bloomberg report also stated that Apple has adjusted its sales forecast to 30 million in the first quarter of 2018, down from 50 million. Its sole manufacturing partner for iPhone X, Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, has also ceased recruiting new workers.

Yon refers to the Bloomberg report, saying that Apple has adjusted its sales forecast. But read the Bloomberg article and you’ll realise that it is a claim reported by a Taiwanese newspaper, not an official Apple adjustment.

As for the recruitment of new workers, if you are familiar with the Chinese industry you’ll know that it is extremely hard to hire at this time of the year. Most people are not keen to start a new job so close to Chinese New Year.

They would stay on the current job until the Chinese New Year holidays. It is not strange for a factory to stop hiring if they don’t foresee staff leaving. They have no vacancies to fill.

In China, there has been less social media chatter about iPhone X compared to its predecessors, according to a Reuters report. On Weibo, there were only 4.97 million posts on iPhone compared to iPhone 6’s six million posts.

Does this point to a lack of interest in the iPhone X? Or does this instead point to the shift away from Weibo as a social media platform?

Most people I know are active on WeChat rather than Weibo. WeChat Moments are private posts visible only to your friends. Hence the lack of analysis of social media chatter about iPhone X on WeChat. Likewise for QQ or Qzone, the other social media platform used by most people.

I have followed the growth of E27 as a news portal with great interest because it writes a lot about news in the region.

However, this post has really disappointed me with its ignorance and a lack of effort to research the points covered. Instead, we get a post that throws in click-baiting title and phrases to grab page views.

Low instant noodle sales points to the economic rise of rural China

Business Insider reported that low instant noodle sales points to the economic rise of rural China.

  • China is selling 8 billion fewer packets of instant noodles than it was in 2013.
  • Fewer local migrants from rural China are moving to cities, which is affecting sales.
  • Instead, workers are staying in rural areas of China where annual incomes are rising at a faster rate than in cities.

Fair points but I would say that a bigger factor is the increasing awareness of proper nutrition and diet. People here are very health conscious and particular about the food they eat. Between ordering food delivery and grabbing an instant noodles, the former is deemed a healthier choice.