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WeChat App in China Described as Apple's 'Toughest Rival' as iPhone 8 Launch Nears


Apple's difficulty in garnering a larger share of the smartphone market in China has been looked at recently by The Wall Street Journal, which described the ubiquitous mobile app WeChat as the iPhone's "toughest rival" in the country. Citing data from QuestMobile, on average WeChat is said to have captured nearly 35 percent of each user's monthly smartphone usage time, averaging about 1 billion monthly active users in total.


The problem for Apple is that WeChat is an entire ecosystem, with one app allowing users to pay for services, text, call cabs, watch videos, play mobile games, and access cloud-based "mini programs," or apps that don't need to be downloaded to a device to be used. Because all of these WeChat features are universal across smartphone brands, analysts speaking with The Wall Street Journal questioned whether or not Apple is "losing its edge" in China.


Specifically, Apple saw a sales drop in Greater China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) in the first half of this past fiscal year, with revenue falling 13 percent in the period. According to analysts looking towards the launch of the iPhone 8, that device's success "largely depends on sales in China."


Such a shift potentially would force Apple to overhaul its entire business model, moving to a system where it releases a new-looking phone annually rather than every other year, as it does currently.


In terms of market share, market research firm Warren Capital noted that Apple and the iPhone have taken fourth place in China, behind Oppo, Vivo, and Huawei. Apple dropped to fifth place in terms of smartphone devices shipped in Q4 2016 (with Xiaomi added into the mix along with the previously mentioned Chinese brands), and in April Kantar Worldpanel's data noted that iOS dropped to its lowest share of the China smartphone market since 2014.

在市场份额方面,市场分析公司Warren Capital说,苹果以及苹果手机排在第四位,前面是Oppo,Vivo,和华为。在2016年第四季度,在智能手机出货量上,由于小米的加入,苹果掉到了第五位。今年四月Kantar Worldpanel的数据显示IOS的市场份额降到了2014年以来的新低。

Thompson points to WeChat as a major reason only 50 percent of China-based iPhone owners stayed with Apple when purchasing a new phone, while in other countries that number is closer to 80 percent on average. Since users spend so much time within WeChat and rarely see any other advantages to owning an iPhone, the app "has turned Apple into just another vendor in China," which analysts see as particularly problematic for Apple as the iPhone 8 launch grows nearer.

在中国,人们购买新手机时只有50%的人会考虑购买苹果,而在其他国家是80%。Thompson 指出,微信是一个很大的原因。因为用户在微信上花费如此多的时间,而很难看出拥有苹果手机有啥优势,这个程序“把苹果变成了只不过是另一个销售商”,分析师们把这看成苹果的大麻烦,尤其是苹果8马上就要发布。

During a visit to China earlier in the year, Apple CEO Tim Cook told local media outlet Caixin, "We're not just someone who's here to access the market. We've created almost 5 million jobs in China. I'm not sure there are too many companies, domestic or foreign, who can say that." Ultimately, Cook said that Apple isn't afraid of the challenges it faces in China, telling the site that Apple is "here to stay."

今年早些时候,苹果CEO Tim Cook访问中国时告诉当地媒体,“我们来中国不只是要进入这个市场,我们还给中国创造了五百万个就业机会。我不觉得有很多其他公司能这么说,别管本地还是外国的”。最后,他说苹果不害怕在中国面临的挑战,“苹果将在中国扎根”,他说。