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Has China Lost Its Taste for the iPhone?

[2024年3月31日] 来源:NY Times  整理:Geilien.cn   字号 [] [] []  
上海的一个地铁站入口,摄于本月。iPhone今年年初在中国的销量下降了24%,与此同时,国内龙头企业华为的销量增长了64%。 Qilai Shen for The New York Times

For years, Apple dominated the market for high-end smartphones in China. No other company made a device that could compete with the iPhone’s performance — or its position as a status object in the eyes of wealthy, cosmopolitan shoppers.

But evidence is mounting that, for many in China, the iPhone no longer holds the appeal it used to. During the first six weeks of the year, historically a peak season for Chinese shoppers to spring for a new phone, iPhone sales fell 24 percent from a year earlier, according to Counterpoint Research, which analyzes the smartphone market.
但越来越多的证据表明,对许多中国人来说,iPhone不再具有以前的那种吸引力。每年的前六周历来是中国消费者购买新手机的旺季,据分析智能手机市场的Counterpoint Research的数据,中国今年头六周的iPhone销量与去年同期相比下降了24%。

Meanwhile, sales for one of Apple’s longstanding Chinese rivals, Huawei, surged 64 percent.

It’s a challenging time for Apple. Analysts say its latest product, a $3,500 virtual reality headset released in February, is still years away from gaining mainstream appeal. This month, Apple has taken two regulatory hits: a European Union fine of nearly $2 billion for anticompetitive music streaming practices and a U.S. government lawsuit claiming Apple violated antitrust laws.

For a decade, China has been the iPhone’s most important market after the United States and accounted for roughly 20 percent of Apple’s sales. Now the company’s grip on China could be dislodged by a series of factors: a slowdown in consumer spending, growing pressure from Beijing for people to shun devices made by U.S. companies and the resurgence of national champion Huawei.

“The golden time for Apple in China is over,” said Linda Sui, a senior director at TechInsights, a market research firm. One of the biggest reasons is the rising tension between the United States and China over trade and technology, Ms. Sui said. Without a significant lessening of geopolitical stress, it will be difficult for Apple to retain its position.

顾客在上海一家苹果店排队购买新款iPhone 15,摄于去年9月。
顾客在上海一家苹果店排队购买新款iPhone 15,摄于去年9月。 Qilai Shen for The New York Times
分析师说,iPhone 15没有引起过去那种新机型发布时的热情。
分析师说,iPhone 15没有引起过去那种新机型发布时的热情。 Qilai Shen for The New York Times

“It’s not just about consumers,” Ms. Sui said. “It’s about the big picture, the two superpowers competing with each other — that’s a fundamental thing behind the whole shift.”

Few American companies have more to lose from these heightened tensions than Apple, whose newest handset, the iPhone 15, went on sale in September. It is the first iPhone line to feature a titanium frame and include an action button that can be programmed to take photos or turn on the flashlight.
在中美紧张关系加剧的情况下,几乎没有美国企业面临的损失有苹果公司大,它的最新款手机iPhone 15已于去年9月上市。这是第一个采用钛金属框架的iPhone系列,并增加了一个操作按钮,可通过设置进行拍照或打开手电筒等操作。

“Five years ago, Apple had really strong branding in China — people would bring tents to wait through the whole night outside the Apple Store for the next product launch,” said Lucas Zhong, a Shanghai-based analyst at Canalys, a market research firm. “The iPhone 15 launch wasn’t nearly as popular.”
“五年前,苹果在中国是一个非常强大的品牌,人们会带着帐篷在苹果专卖店外彻夜等待新款产品的发布,”市场研究公司Canalys驻上海的分析师钟晓磊说。“iPhone 15的推出并没有引起太大的轰动。”

Six months later, Apple has plastered billboards across cities like Shanghai, reminding residents they can still buy an iPhone 15 nearby. Similar promotions helped the iPhone account for four of the six top selling smartphones in China in the final three months of last year, the company said during a call with Wall Street analysts. But the prominent advertising did not persuade Jason Li, 22, to visit the Apple Store on Nanjing East Road, in the heart of Shanghai’s shopping district, when he needed to replace his iPhone 13 Pro Max.
六个月后,苹果在上海等城市打出大幅广告,提醒居民他们仍能就近购买iPhone 15。公司在与华尔街的分析师们举行的电话会议上说,类似的促销活动帮助iPhone在去年最后三个月在中国最畅销的六款智能手机中占了四款。但醒目的广告并没有说服22岁的贾森·李(音),当他需要更换自己的iPhone 13 Pro Max时,他没有去位于上海购物区中心南京东路的苹果店。

Instead, Mr. Li went to the Huawei flagship store directly across the street, where he contemplated the Mate 60 Pro.
李先生反而直接去了街对面的华为旗舰店,在那里他盘算着是否购买Mate 60 Pro。

“I don’t want to use iOS anymore,” he said, referring to the iPhone’s operating system. “It’s a bit stale.”

Apple declined to comment.

苹果在上海等城市投放广告,提醒居民仍然可以购买iPhone 15。
苹果在上海等城市投放广告,提醒居民仍然可以购买iPhone 15。 Qilai Shen for The New York Times

For some in China, buying a phone has become a political statement. Debates over whether using an iPhone is disrespectful to Chinese tech companies or akin to handing personal data over to the U.S. government have erupted online. Last year, employees at some Chinese government agencies reported being told not to use iPhones for work.

These directives surfaced less than two weeks after Huawei unveiled the Mate 60 Pro, a smartphone equipped with the company’s own operating system and a computer chip more advanced than had previously been made in China.
这些指示是在华为推出Mate 60 Pro不到两周后作出的,这款智能手机配备了华为自己的操作系统,芯片也比过去的国产芯片更先进。

Huawei released the device in the final days of a trip to China by Gina M. Raimondo, the U.S. commerce secretary. Chinese commentators and state media heralded it as a triumph for Huawei in the face of Washington’s attempts to restrict the company from developing just such technology.

The Mate 60 Pro was an immediate sensation. Its boost to Huawei’s sales carried over into the first six weeks of this year, when the company claimed the second-largest share of the smartphone market, up to 17 percent from 9 percent a year earlier, according to data from Counterpoint.
Mate 60 Pro立即引起了轰动。它提高了华为手机的销量,而且增长势头一直延续到今年头六周,华为宣称已经占据了中国智能手机市场的第二大份额,从一年前的9%上升到了17%(来自Counterpoint的数据)。

“Today, holding the Mate 60 series gives people a feeling like they had many years ago if someone saw them holding an iPhone on the street,” said Ivan Lam, a senior analyst at Counterpoint Research in Hong Kong. This is especially true for people over 35, the age group that buys the most smartphones, he said.
“今天,手持Mate 60系列的手机给人的感觉,就像很多年前如果有人在街上看到他们拿着iPhone一样,”香港研究公司Counterpoint Research的高级分析师林科宇说。他表示,对35岁以上的人来说尤其如此,这个年龄段的人是智能手机的最大买家。

China’s smartphone market is divided up by a number of companies. The domestic brands Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi jostle with Apple and Huawei for the largest pieces.

华为的新款手机Mate 60 Pro“给人的感觉,就像很多年前如果有人在街上看到他们拿着iPhone一样,”一名分析师说。
华为的新款手机Mate 60 Pro“给人的感觉,就像很多年前如果有人在街上看到他们拿着iPhone一样,”一名分析师说。 Qilai Shen for The New York Times
上海的一家华为专卖店。华为的新操作系统一直对中国购物者具有吸引力。 Qilai Shen for The New York Times

Apple started selling iPhones in China in 2009. The last time it was losing ground to Huawei, in 2019, the Trump administration inadvertently extended Apple a lifeline by restricting U.S. technology firms from dealing with Huawei. Google, which makes the Android operating system, and several semiconductor companies cut off their support of the Chinese smartphone maker.

As Huawei struggled, Apple rebounded. In 2022, its share of phones sold in China rose to 22 percent, from 9 percent in 2019, according to Counterpoint. Apple reported record revenue of $74 billion from the region during its fiscal year ending in September 2022.

But the restrictions also forced Huawei to develop its own wireless chip and operating system, resulting in the technology behind the Mate 60 Pro. The operating system has been a draw for Chinese shoppers, and many of China’s biggest tech companies have made apps exclusively for it, further walling off users from platforms used outside China.
但美国政府的限制也迫使华为开发自己的无线通讯芯片和操作系统,最终研发出了Mate 60 Pro背后的技术。华为的操作系统一直对中国购物者具有吸引力,许多中国最大的科技企业专门为其开发了应用程序,进一步将中国用户与境外使用的平台隔离开来。

Huawei’s innovation has made Apple’s latest models appear stodgy by comparison. And as China’s economy has struggled to rebound from the Covid pandemic, many consumers are hesitant to spend on what feels like an incremental upgrade. The owners of about 125 million out of 215 million iPhones in China have not upgraded to newer devices in the last three years, according to Daniel Ives, an Apple analyst at Wedbush Securities.

Apple has responded to the challenges in China. Its chief executive, Tim Cook, has traveled to the country and visited Apple’s suppliers. Last week, he attended the splashy opening of an Apple Store near Shanghai’s Jing’an Temple — the company’s eighth store in Shanghai and 57th in China — to a crowd of Apple fans. The company also said it was expanding its research and development labs in Shanghai.

最近,苹果在上海再开新店,这是它在上海的第八家店,在中国的第57家店。 Qilai Shen for The New York Times

But for some shoppers, Apple’s efforts have been overshadowed by Washington’s approach to the company’s Chinese rival.

While waiting at the Genius Bar for help with his ailing iPhone 12 at the Apple Store on Nanjing East Road in Shanghai, Chi Miaomiao, 38, said he had recently bought Huawei’s Mate 60 Pro as his second phone. He was drawn to Huawei after its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested by the Canadian authorities in 2018 at the request of the United States, which accused her of misleading banks about Huawei’s business in Iran. Ms. Meng’s detention set off a flood of support in China, where many saw her as a hostage.
现年38岁的迟淼淼(音)正在上海南京东路的苹果专卖店的天才吧等人来帮助解决他的iPhone 12出现的故障。他说,他最近买了一部华为Mate 60 Pro作为自己的第二部手机。2018年,华为首席财务官孟晚舟在美国要求下被加拿大当局逮捕,美国指控她在华为的伊朗业务上误导了银行。这件事后,迟先生对华为发生了兴趣。孟晚舟被逮捕在中国引发了对她的强烈支持,许多人认为她是作为人质被扣留的。

“Huawei is our own brand, and because of this political incident, I think we Chinese should be united,” Mr. Chi said.
“ 因为华为是我们自己的品牌,因为一个政治事件,我觉得我们国人应该也是应该团结的,”迟先生说。

Upstairs on the Apple sales floor, Li Bin, 23, and two friends debated the latest iPhone models. Huawei and Apple were nearly comparable in quality, Mr. Li said, and though he thought the iPhone was slightly better, it was also more expensive.

“I may switch to an iPhone,” Mr. Li said, “when I get richer in the future.”
“ 以后经济富裕的情况下可能会换(iPhone),”李先生说。

Li You和Zixu Wang对本文有研究贡献。

Meaghan Tobin是时报科技记者,常驻台北,报道亚洲地区的商业和科技新闻,重点关注中国。

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Tripp Mickle为时报报道苹果公司和硅谷新闻,常驻旧金山。他对苹果公司的关注包括产品发布、制造问题和政治挑战。他也报道整个科技行业的趋势,包括裁员、生成式AI和机器人出租车等。