There appears to be good news on the iPhone SE sales front, at least in China. According to a recent report from CNBC, Cupertino has received more than 3.4 million preorders for the handset from retailers in China. That doesn’t count orders made directly to Apple from Chinese consumers. Is that the whole story, though, or is there more to it? From what retailers are saying in China, the new handset may be overpriced for the market and not show as much lasting demand.
They really like the gold option
The new iPhone SE has no revolutionary update. I don't think the demand will be as strong as the iPhone 6 and 6S.- Henan Province distributor, to CNBC
According to the report, the most popular color choice for the iPhone SE among Chinese retailers is gold, accounting for 1.3 million orders. Rose gold comes in close behind at 1.2 million orders, leaving just 900,000 units of the space gray and silver configurations. Even with these initial sales numbers, distributors in China aren’t expecting much demand for the devices. Of course, they’re comparing the 4-inch handset to the flagship 5.5-inch products, and neglecting to think about budget-conscious consumers or those who prefer the smaller 4-inch form factor.
Avoiding disruptive lines at retailers
Apple has decided to push sales through preorders, in part to reduce the huge lines that have previously developed outside Chinese retail stores for other product launches. Those lines have proven so disruptive in the past the past that people grew angry, sometimes even throwing eggs at the stores. Three retail sites have divulged their total preorder numbers so far.
Those figures seem pretty impressive, but it will take some time to determine if the demand continues or slacks off after the initial preorder period.
Hurting the scalper economy
Considering my dislike for scalpers, all I can say is "Cry me a river."
One group of people seemingly unhappy with the changed preorder model has proven to be the mass of scalpers that try to take advantage of the popularity of the iPhone. According to CNBC, scalpers were able to charge a premium of $300 for a launch-day iPhone 6, but that’s not proving to be the case for the iPhone SE. The most scalpers are seemingly able to charge for the lower-cost handset is a $30 premium. Considering my dislike for scalpers, all I can say is, “Cry me a river.”
Is the iPhone SE overpriced, though?
Apple doesn’t usually break down iPhone sales by model, and we’ll have to wait until next week before we hear any official numbers for sales. The iPhone SE goes on sale in stores on Thursday, March 31, and previous indications suggest a large number of consumers still holding on to their iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s devices will jump gleefully to the newer technology of the iPhone SE.
Several Chinese retailers are offering the iPhone SE at discounted prices. Sellers on Alibaba’s Taobao site are offering the new phone at a discount of as much as $100, claiming the phones are being purchased from the United States, where the 16GB iPhone SE sells for $399. The official price of that same handset in China works out to $505 USD after currency exchange, which may explain some of the concerns retailers are expressing about the pricing model of the smaller handset.