I’ve been pretty bearish on the iPhone 5C’s prospects in China since it was initially announced, and it’s no secret that the phone met a cold reception in China. How cold? Caijing, citing data from Minpixel, says that Apple is selling double the number of iPhone 5Ss than it has sold 5Cs. But the most damning evidence may be that just a couple of weeks after the launch, the 5C is already being sold at steep discounts online.
On Apple’s website, the 5C costs what it always has: 4488 RMB ($735) for the 16 GB version. But online, it’s available for significantly less. This Tmall shop, for example, is offering the phone at 3988 RMB ($653). And there are Taobao shops selling the devices for as low as 3050 RMB ($500), which is actually cheaper than the phone’s price even in the US.
Although some undercutting of Apple’s official price in China is inevitable because gray market online sellers don’t have to pay the official import duties that drive Apple’s China prices up, it’s pretty unprecedented for an iPhone’s price to drop so far. At $500 apiece online, the phone is available at a discount of more than $200. Discount isn’t a word you hear much associated with Apple products, but the 5C certainly seems to be blazing new ground as the first iPhone ever that China isn’t very interested in.