To put in perspective, most Chinese netizens are generally pretty critical of the Chinese gov. Chinese with higher educations usually look up to western culture and products. However after the Huawei arrest incident, the Chinese netizens were pissed at the American government, I've never seen such anger towards the US gov, and huge waves of boycotts began. They think that American gov is bullying a Chinese company into obeying US law even outside US, and their response is to boycott American products.
During my two weeks here I've talked to a dozen random people at bars, friends gatherings and on the plane. Normally US-China politics never come up, but it has come up in almost every single conversation this trip. Most of these people mention that they recent switched to a Chinese phone or their next phone will be a domestic phone.
American are persecuting a company that disobeyed American laws on American soil. No a single Chinese would blink an eye about persecuting American companies in China.
China is having economic issues, that's the major reason in sales' dip.
Hypocrites exist. The Chinese government was shamelessly hypocritical over the Meng arrest, complaining that it violated her "human rights,"  while their utter indifference to them has yet again been made clear by the camps in Xinjiang. I doubt everyday nationalistic citizens would be any more thoughtful.
 https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46465768: "A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson told reporters: 'The detention without giving any reason violates a person's human rights.' ... Beijing has itself frequently been accused by rights groups of rights abuses including unexplained detentions"
> China is having economic issues, that's the major reason in sales' dip.
Nationalistic ferver drummed up by the Huawei arrest could compound the sales drop.
It goes both ways. I'm sure we'd all prefer if everyone would just stop violating human rights, but that isn't happening. It's not fair to ignore the US's human rights violations just because of China's, and it's not fair to ignore China's human rights violations just because of the US's. Both governments are hypocritical.
That's bullshit. The camps aren't there to "de-radicalize" anyone, they're there to subjugate and destroy a minority culture.
This is proven because this government campaign also targets "moderates" of that culture, even ones that have gone out of their way to declare loyalty to the state:
> Last year, Mr. Jalaleddin joined a government-led campaign for prominent Uighurs to write open letters declaring their allegiance to the state.
> Despite that declaration, he was detained in January 2018 [emphasis mine], according to overseas Uighur organizations.
> “So many moderate intellectuals have been detained now,” Dr. Harris said. “I don’t know how else to understand this, except as a deliberate policy to deprive Uyghurs of their cultural memory.”
That's more bullshit. How are they supposed to do that when the government that's detaining them is also confiscating their passports  ? And why would that government give those people the "option" of moving to Turkey when it simultaneously condemns Turkey for taking the refugees  and demands Uyghurs trying to escape be returned to China ?
I read that Bloomberg article as more of a swipe at Apple and Amazon than at SuperMicro—especially given the tenor of other articles they've posted, as well as the fact that both companies responded forcefully almost immediately, with no followup or rebuttal from Bloomberg.
In no way is any of it justified-- it's millions of people, and even the Uyghurs that escape are being continually hunted by the government.
Expect AAPL to decline from now on unless they pivot or get some balls and use that stockpiled cash to experiment heavily. Tim Cook is not willing to burn cash on R
&D like he needs to maintain a major competitive edge.
There is a line of thinking that the trade war comes at a convenient time PR-wise for the Chinese got. It gives them a scapegoat for domestic economic issues, which they are only too happy to talk up. (But I don't really know anything, and welcome expert correction.)
However I'm not sure if the boycott really has a big impact on sales. The consumers quite pragmatic when they spend their own hard-earned money even the sentiment is really strong as you observed. In China there are cut-throat competitions across all markets. Mobile phone market is one of them. There are quite a few smartphone manufacturers fighting for market share. Some used-to-be-good companies could not survive but the news only limited in China. Without boycott Apple sales still could go down because of competition.
this was probably true 10-15 years ago. rather than some cheap talks purely based on "what I heard" or "what I believe", let's have some quick concrete numbers published  by the top Chinese university Tsinghua. In its 2018 annual graduate report, the summary table on page 2 shows that for the total 6,960 students graduated in 2018, 16.5% chose to pursue further studies overseas, while 28.5% chose to continue in Chinese universities for a higher degree.
the most shocking number comes from the table 6 on page 9 - out of the top 25 employers of the 2018 graduates there is only 1 foreign company (Microsoft).
I checked the same reports from the previous few years, the trend is the same.
I wouldn't expect this to correlate with opinions of "western culture and products". There are a whole lot of reasons why you'd choose to stray in your country vs going oversees. For instance, how easy is it to get a US visa vs just staying in your native country?
there is only one western company in the top 25 top employers list, is that related to US visas?
In the past, the android phones kept focussing on features (remember the s3 ads about how it had all these features missing in the 4/4s). Now, especially with Huawei, they've really mastered the art of branding and messaging on their products. When Huawei listed a phone with 3 cameras and cost more than an iphone, I knew that was a home run. The higher price reinforced the image of the premiumness of Huawei which benefitted all their products down the line as evidenced by their sales numbers. They've finally realized the Xiaomi (same quality at a lower price), actually doesn't work on an emotional level with consumers. Instead, Huawei have gone to the extreme (Leica partnership lenses + 3 cameras). They've been doing this for a while, and results just take time to show and now they have.
> “When I first heard that Huawei’s new flagship device was going to have three rear-facing cameras I was sceptical,” said Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight. “But it feels like the company has added meaningful features rather than gimmicks, including the five-times telephoto zoom, excellent low light, long exposure performance and crisp black and white pictures the dedicated monochrome lens offers.”
> Huawei’s traditional setup of combining the data from a monochrome and a color sensor is still in place, but this time, the color sensor weighs in at a whopping 40 megapixels. You’ll have the option to use that entire resolution to take photos, though the default setting will be to combine the data from four adjacent pixels into one and thus generate clearer, brighter 10-megapixel shots. One of these quad-pixel pixels inside the P20 Pro measures in at 2µm, which is huge for a smartphone sensor. Google’s Pixel 2, for comparison, has 1.4µm pixels, while the regular P20, which has a 12-megapixel main sensor, comes with 1.55µm pixels.
Still, you can proudly tell people "my phone has more cameras than yours" :)
On the Notes of Retail, Apple had ~430 Stores in 2014, ~460 in 2015. As of end 2018 it is ~510, all the stores opened in 2015 were planned before Angela's arrival, so effectively she has slowed down the opening of new Apple Store under her tenure.
During that time, Apple grew from ~800M Active Devices to 1.4B, that is 600M Devices increase, but less than 60 new Stores opened, if you are wondering why it is so crowed you cant even breath in Apple Store, that is why.
In 2015 I made a prediction that Apple could be aiming at 1B iPhone users by 2020. It seems crazy at the time, and a lot of people did call me so. But as of 2019 Apple has 900M iPhone users, so the 1B iPhone users doesn't seems to far off. I also thought Apple should be aiming at 1000 Apple Stores world wide. Apple Retail were growing at approximately 10+% before 2015, it was possible to reach ~750 by 2020, now not only have they not accelerated, they slowed down.
From reading all the latest Interview, it finally seems to me this luxury Apple idea didn't came from Angela herself. It came from Tim Cook ( or may be even Jonny Ive ), he wanted Apple to be more luxurious ( Apple Watch Gold Edition in 2016 ), and get Angela on board to try and help shaping the Retail part. Angela never wanted the job in the first place, but Tim Cook talked her into it. And one reason why her salary package were the highest in Apple.
I hope having Deirdre O'Brien meant Tim Cook gave up this idea of luxurious Apple. At least not luxurious in the normal sense, Apple is an affordable luxury in tech world, and that is drastically different to clothing or Jewelry industry. iPhone needs After sales services, and you cant rely on a small number of Apple store to provide adequate services to its customers and loyal users.
They realized that when people carry their tech with them all the time it becomes fashion. That’s why they bought Beats, because it became a huge tech-fashion brand that threatened Apple.
And with fashion people are willing to pay much higher prices.
In fact the fashion market is all about ridiculous virtue signalling at absolutely ridiculous prices - like the Vertu range, which takes an average phone and wraps it in some leather and chrome bling, dresses up the marketing copy with "craftsmanship" "exclusive" etc etc etc and charges five figures for it.
The key point is ridiculous pricing. Not just the very high end of affordable, like Apple. But the kind of ridiculous that only works for the 0.1%.
So Apple was never going to be Gucci-of-tech, or LV, or H. Or even Vertu. Because Apple is never going to charge $20k for its main iPhone range. And unless it does, it can't be a serious fashion brand.
In fact Apple's strong point was always its appeal to the exclusivity of the creative market - talent, intelligence, inventiveness, and art. It's a completely different exclusivity - more accessible but also sexier - than the mass market appeal of the expensive-but-trying-too-hard mid-market brands that Apple has ended up in.
Cook has done an excellent job of destroying that creative entrepreneurial foundation. This has made a lot of money for Apple in the medium term, but at the cost of the good will and loyalty of its core fans.
That won't seem like a problem if you're a bean counter, but it's a huge vulnerability for the brand. It means Apple has shaved off more and more of its USP, and now it's vulnerable to imitators in some of its key territories.
Apple is like Nike.
Fashion and design are elevated as first-class concerns along - and rarely conflicting - with functionality and ubiquity. Yes, they cost more than the bargain basement, but actually span a wide range of price, otherwise they'd be as rare and exclusive as Hermès bags - yet everyone seems to have an iPhone, just like everyone seems to have a pair of Nikes.
Apple is not "chasing tech as fashion" - they make holistic products that a very small segment of the population perceives strictly as "trendy fashion." Millionaires wear Nikes to fashion shows, and your dad mows the lawn in Nikes.
I rarely see Beats headphones out in the wild, and they used to be very common 5-6 years ago. Airpods are more common now as a status symbol.
Also from Bloomberg: Chinese consumer tax receipts down 70% in November. https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-12-31/china-...
Granted, you've also got Germany in a de facto recession and the UK inching toward one . If the US can maintain a 2.5%+ GDP growth pace for 2019 against all of that, it'll be surprising. Projections on S&P 500 Q1 earnings have turned from 6-7% growth to an expected contraction. The market will weaken further with earnings growth disappearing, which is guaranteed to force the Fed to pause rate hikes and then cut.
Added to that, Deutsche Bank's recent "funding woes" (to quote the FT) personally give me a bad vibe, not sure if we're at the "summer 2007 phase" of Northern Rock's troubles  or if we're already in the "early September 2008 phase", i.e. a couple of weeks before Lehman fell. The nastier news is that, afaik, Deutsche is (was?) seen as being supported by the German government (the same as Volkswagen, for example), even more than the Wall Street investment banks were supported by Washington, and if Deutsche falls that will reflect very, very badly on the perceived financial soundness of the German government and hence of Europe as a whole.
1 company vs 100. All the 100 companies would have to be knuckleheads forever (which is super unlikely, it's basically: "you can fool some people all the time or all the people sometimes, but you can't really fool all the people all the time").
Android is moving up in the world, and except for the US, which was always a bit weird in regards to Apple, Android will make Windows' dominance look like a walk in the park. Look at what Google's doing with relatively weaker dominance of Chrome in the web browser world.
-the affluence level of iOS users dwarf Android users statistically. A person who can afford a $700 iPhone is much more valuable than a person buying a $220 Android phone (the average selling price of an Android phone)
- Apple couldn’t keep up performance wise with the Mac because you had the entire PC industry funding Intel. Hardly anyone is making money selling Android phones. Apple is making 80% of the profit in the phone market.
-iOS is doing well in most affluent countries
So the future isn't looking very bright for Apple, considering that India, China and Africa are almost entirely Android territories :)
Just keep in mind that Windows failed for 10+ years before having the smash hit that was Windows 95.
Not even Google is making any real money on Android. It came out during the Oracle trial that Android has only made Google $39 billion during its entire existence. Even then, they pay Apple over $2 billion a year to be the default search engine for iOS devices. Mobile hasn’t been that great for anyone in the Android ecosystem.
Android as a whole is nothing more than unprofitable race to the bottom.
What use it to sell to 3 billion people buying $50 phones? If Apple starts losing the high end, then it needs to worry.
Even in the PC market, none of the PC manufacturers are rolling in cash - except for Apple. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple makes more selling Macs than all PC manufacturers make selling computers (excluding servers).
On a second thought, the biggest users of servers are probably cloud companies and Facebook and many of them are making their own servers.
If Android didn't exist, Google would likely be paying even more to be the default search engine on non-iOS devices, or they'd have significantly lower search revenue.
But they've really missed a trick with their retail strategy in India. They've partnered with local retailers to run "Apple stores". These stores are nowhere near the smooth, beautiful experience of a regular Apple Store.
It feels preposterous to walk into a shoddily built store selling a phone for $1200 when you can walk next door to a Samsung or OnePlus outlet and get a similarly capable phone for half the price
Apple needs to bump up its quality game. They've been losing market share here in India and for all purposes, this country is a lost cause to them. I wouldn't be a very happy Apple shareholder right now
Apple's Indian partners don't seem to care, nor does Apple that their partners are offering a sub-par experience.
And let's be honest, anyone who can see even 10 years into the future would know that the next wave of growth will come from India
It's not really a lost cause until the market is saturated. If the smartphone market in 5-10 years in India is going to be significantly larger than it is now, then it's just getting started.
We've had reports of a worsening job market and reduced consumer spending inside China since last year.
>DONGGUAN, China — China’s consumers and businesses are losing confidence. Car sales have plunged. The housing market is stumbling. Some factories are letting workers off for the big Lunar New Year holiday two months early.
> IPhone’s high price tag is a major reason for the contraction
That combined with lower consumer confidence could easily be the most obvious reason. With a small amount of nationalistic propaganda/marketing thrown in.
The other big elephant in the room is WeChat becoming the primary Chinese mobile OS, diminishing the value of Android vs iOS. Which puts further pressure on the price of the phones, as they are more commodity-like. Apple raising prices, particularly in China, at this time might end up being the worst business idea they've made in a long time.
Also, we wouldn't expect to see falling sales in China across all of the device manufacturers (even those selling budget devices) inside China as shown in even this article.
The reality is that the major factor here is that Chinese consumers are cutting way back on spending due to economic uncertainty inside China.
It's something that has been discussed in the media since last year.
That's the rub. XR was supposed to be the Asia phone with dual-sim and sacrificing OLED to get a bigger phablet.
Instead we have "which X to choose" dilemma.
By doing so, they're effectively sacrificing a massive portion of the Asian market. Oh well.
Huawei on other hand has rather different marketing plan - they make somewhat expensive products for ordinary people, even thought some of their phones can cost more than $1000 USD in maxed out configuration (leather and hand made editions)
Apple on another hand has really little appeal to this demographic, on both brand identity front, and product match.
That surely sounds unusual to a Western person, but that how it is. Huawei buyer is a well off working man in late twenties or early thirties with few more things to care about in his life than his phone.
Car analogy: Huawei - a nice full size sedan, a show of success for a common man; Apple - an "economy supercar" like Black Badge edition RR Ghost, something what broke millionaire wannabees buy
Indeed, but they also have the "3rd world iPhone" models - respins of previous generations and "C" model which were to supposedly cater to this market.
They greatly overestimated willingness of locals into buying "poor man's Rolce Royce editions"
Well. Used to. This year was the first year I could buy it straight in the shop on day one. I knew right then Apple has problems.
Also, that Android phone you buy will stop getting updates in 18 months if you’re lucky. The iPhone 5s from 2013 is still running the latest OS.
Slower in doing what? Posting a pic/video on Wechat? Making a money transfer? Playing a game?
Phones today are where the PC market was about a decade ago when 4GB RAM and a Core 2 Duo SoCs became common and offered enough performance for users to not have to upgrade their laptop every 3-5 years.
We don't have to look at AnandTech-style benchmark analysis anymore to figure out whether a midrange Android in 2019 will serve most needs.
No one cares about lack of updates on Android phones, only geeks like us.
In fact many consumers disable automatic updates with fear that an update will bring a totally new UI to their favourite apps, forcing them to relearn where everything has gone to.
Finally, by being much cheaper means that when time comes to upgrade, one gets a shiny new handset without any kind of scratches or half broken screen.
Not everyone wants a computer on their pocket.
So none of those benefits really matter.
I thought we were talking about China here.
Their back account might hold for a couple of decades to come, but eventually they will need to come up with something else.
Last I checked, they haven't run out of people to sell Macs to and they have been around for 35 years....u
Or are you saying that the "current generation of phones should be enough for anyone", Bill Gates style?
And if Apple experience the PC vs Mac “problem” that seems to be a good thing. Apple is the only company making any serious money selling computers while the rest of the PC industry is struggling trying to chase after a few pennies. Apple just reported its highest revenue ever for a quarter selling Macs.
 Before, I get "well, actuallied", I know there is no proof he ever said that.
Macs are a tiny percentage of current business, and only at reach of first world countries. Around 10% world wide.
Phones don't last forever, which is another reason not to spend diamonds on them.
The Mac had 5.3 Billion in revenue last quarter.
The Mac by itself had higher revenue than McDonalds. If the Mac were a standalone business it would by itself have higher revenue than all but 110 companies in the Fortune 500.
And you seem to think there is actually profit by chasing after pennies in none first world countries.
Why the Mac is still around doesn't matter...
I think everyone is entitled to a mobile phone without having to give diamonds in exchange for one.
You realize Jobs has been dead since 2011?
The book offer still stands.
Do you still use a PC running Windows 95?
You should read about “sustaining innovations”. It’s the other part of the “Innovator’s Dilemma” that most people ignore.
The MacBook Air, Mac Mini, and the iMac Pro got rave reviews and again, the market spoke - the Mac had its highest revenue quarter ever.
If you put an iPhone 8 next to an OnePlus 6T, the iPhone will look like an Ford Model T next to the latest Ford model from 2019.
Tech is also fashion, when we carry it around everywhere.
And this is besides the fact that Android comes with quite a few of its own benefits, things which you can't find on iPhones.
Being kind of a car guy, I wondered how well it would work for them. Because to this day it stumps me when a luxury car manufacturer makes a budget model. The poster child for that was the Cadillac Cimarron. Take a Chevy Cavalier (one-step-above-the-low-end compact car), stick leather seats and a Cadillac badge on it, sorted. C'mon, Cadillac, people scraping together the money so they can say they own a "Cadillac" are not the people that will be upgrading to an El Dorado later. No, in fact, that they overpaid for a Chevy Cavalier because of a badge means they likely lack the financial sense to ever own a real Cadillac. All you've done is damage your brand, and pissed off Cadillac owners. (Don't get me started on the Jaguar X-type.)
In the same vein, the budget model iPhones made me wonder if you're ever going to pull those customers into what is an relatively expensive ecosystem. HN is a poor indicator, but all I've ever heard here is "I like the SE because size" not "hey, I saved a few bucks".
I’ve kept that phone for 3 years now.
$1000 mark just seems too steep for something that easily breaks or gets stolen.
Esp when it’s not that different from my iPhone8
Now that I can actually afford it, I look at my OnePlus 5T and wonder why I would ever want "more phone" than it
Though the business model of tech giant is new, for most, the market in which they evolve isn’t. Facebook and Google’s revenues are essentially advertising, another source of revenues that is very pro-cyclical.
Amazon is retail sales, also quite pro-cyclical.
I don’t know how a cloud business would behave in a recession. Plus the cloud is still in high growth phase, kind of like smartphones or online advertising were in 2008, making the economic context less relevant.
In the odd event that my iPhone lasts the 24months without having a major hardware hickup (such as being shattered), somehow all the rebates disappear from my plan. A rep from my phone company calls me and says I can get a new 24 months plan WITH a new iphone, and since the new one would get the rebates I just lost, it's effectively the same monthly cost including the new phone. Being the sucker that I am, I accept and I have a new phone.
I'm sure I could find a company that sells me a plan that would become cheaper instead of stripped of all rebates once my 24 months are over. But I'm also lazy and don't want to switch mobile networks as my current network has the best coverage in the rural areas I need to go to.
It's a plan plan that is both simple and clever: instead of lowering the prices for buying new phones, what they do is just raise the price of NOT buying a new phone.
Feels like Apple have a really weird phone line up right now.
There used to be 3 models - iPhone classic (the previous gen maybe with a few tweaks), iPhone massive (better camera and battery) and iPhone awesome expensive high tech edition (new stuff). Now it seems to be 5 or more models in China, how can this make sense? Just stick to those three models and price them correctly and they'll get more sales.
> Feels like Apple have a really weird phone line up right now.
So Apple's sales are hurt because it's hard to keep track of their 3 models this year? Shouldn't the same logic basically kill Huawei's sales?
Off the top of your head can you quickly tell me the differences between these Huawei models launched over the past year?
Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Huawei Mate 20 Lite, Huawei Mate 20, Huawei P20 Pro, Huawei P20, Huawei Mate 10 Pro.
And that's only counting the high-ish end. It would be a really long comment if I included all models.
Edit: Changed "X" to be "one issue" for clairty, but thay makes the following comment confusing. Sorry about that.
My only point is that the argument “lineup is complicated” doesn’t really have any merit. I see no point in attcking me for something that left very little room for interpretation.
Apple's phone lineup relies on targeting a particular market segment. If you can't afford it, save until you can.
China will experience a traumatic experience(growing pains) for getting to a service economy like the rest of the world had.
If Apple continue raising prices they will lose the mass production advantage they have. Steve Jobs always created products that were affordable(like the iPod, or the inexpensive macbook) so it gave the expensive ones mass production components(like accelerometers, cameras, special glass, wifi chips, touch screens).
It seems Tim Cook had the brilliant idea of eliminating low cost products in order to raise margins(that are obscene high right now at Apple), but people are not stupid and alternatives exist.
One of the smart things about Jobs's product structure is that it put people on a position to take a chance on Apple by buying a low-end product, then they could migrate into the more expensive end once they got used to Apple. There's a reason it's called the entry-level, and getting rid of it is foolish.
https://wccftech.com/apple-iphone-profits-declining/ This article (and everything else I've read online) reports that iPhone profit margins are declining.
2020: European Car Shipments Plunge in China as XXX(#) Tightens Grip
2025: Tesla Car Shipments Plunge in China as YYY(#) Tightens Grip
(#) Any local company currently in favor with the ruling party.
The facts we do know are that (a) price affects sales, (b) China has a lot of well made, value focused phones and (c) Apple has already acknowledged their iPhones are expensive.
I did not claim that they were the cause of the drop but simply that these are factors that may also be at play.
CPC puts huge effort to maintain the illusion of unity. The recent ramp up effort to suppress Cantonese is just one example. 80 million people (equal to the population of Germany) speaks Cantonese. Overall 400 million Chinese still can't speak Mandarin.
The reactions to my comment are absolutely appalling.
Like in most countries where education is tightly controlled by the government, patriotism is a result of state propaganda.
> how "the foreign powers" treated them in the past.
The worst thing that happened to Chinese was not the way foreign powers treated them, but what came after under their own ruling party.
Does one really need references for this?
Aren't everyone aware of the massive socialist experimentations Mao executed on China's people?
The lowest estimate available is that 50 million people were killed (high end estimate closer to 80 million dead) due to political purges (cultural revolution etc.) and starvation (socialize farming, great leap forward, etc.).
> The failure of agricultural policies, the movement of farmers from agricultural to industrial work, and weather conditions led to millions of deaths from severe famine. Many also died from quota-based executions instituted by government officials. The economy, which had improved since the end of the civil war, was devastated.
See Mike Davis' Late Victorian Holocausts
So take these numbers with grain of salt and consider the book and its claim just a propaganda tool.
So your point is? Regardless of the actual figures, it was probably the worst genocide of History.
I find amusing that those so vocal against that period of Chinese history use the exact same methods to destroy critical discussion.
Whatever the cause of lower iPhone sales, I'm skeptical it's what you claim - sunspots seem more likely to me.
I agree that some leaders were stupid but we generally agree they are our own business. I'm not surprised that Xi may one day be overthrown. but with some new government, we are still patriotic. Basically it's because our thousands of years of history doesn't allow us from being discriminated by anyone, IMO.
For iPhones, I'd say they're just not sexy. The design and color are boring. Super expensive for the hardware you get. Also Apple's ecosystem doesn't really matter in China. WeChat and a few apps make iPhones and Android roughly same experience.
You mean Japanese in WW II? Bear in mind that generally, regardless of the country, being raised as overly patriotic equals to being brainwashed by educational system into lies and selective semi-truths about your history, the politics and what is actually happening in the world. Makes a good army of obedient robots, but not much more. In long term, it screws up given nation/group of people since reality will eventually bite back.
That doesn't say anything about whether iPhone owners are more likely to be low-income or high-income, but there are a lot more low-income people than there are high-income people...
In the US, maybe. The average world GDP per capita PPP is $17k. The US GDP per capita PPP is $59k, almost 4x the world.
In most of the rest of the world, including other developed countries, "convenience store clerks" definitely don't have iPhones.
Perhaps it's a status symbol too, shows that you are well to do and financially stable.
If I have several thousand dollars of black money, that's not much and no one cares.
OTOH, if you have a lot of black money, let's say in millions of dollars, buying a single iPhone doesn't really help at all. Yet buying a bunch of iPhone's seems to be very inconvenient unless you are selling them to someone else.
Status symbol was more likely 5 or 10 years back. Nowadays not a lot of people actually care about what phones you are using (at least the ones I know, potential selection bias there).
My guess is that people simply don't care about having an iPhone vs an Android anymore. Especially so when Android phones don't suck or can be better than iPhone now.
Yes, China has fake Prada, tons of fake Prada, but you don't really get a lot of people going for Pradas invariably of its genuineness. Same for iPhone users - there are extreme cases of idiots selling their organs to buy one, but to most people - the brand may be near invisible, moreover to people outside of megacities.
China's rich don't necessarily come from big cities. There are way more millionaires outside the Beijing/Shanghai/Guangzhou trio than inside. In fact, mid-tier cities have more millionaires per capita than megacities.
It's only natural that marketing of big foreign brands that primarily target megacities gets what is sows - a very proletarian, working class demographic.
I want to add that Amazon got a hunch of that recently - Amazon China was a joke up until their last few campaigns that were targeting almost exclusively second tier cities. To everybody's surprise, that move made them to near double their business here in around one year.