This article, "Taking a Bite Out of Apple" , discusses Apple's new strategy to reach the Chinese market and other developing nations, and compares their efforts to Apple's major competitor in this market, Xiaomi. Typically, smartphone devices in the United States, especially during the introduction phase of the product life cycle, have relatively inelastic demand because of consumer perceptions on brands such as Apple and Samsung. Even though these products have hefty price tags, brand loyalty makes these items a necessity rather than a luxury for many consumers who are willing to pay these high prices.
This is not the case, however, in some other nations, and this article discusses China as an example. Just one week before the release of the new iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s, a Chinese firm, Xiaomi released a new device called the Mi-3. Xiaomi was recently founded in 2010 and has already earned billions in revenues and has often been compared to Amazon. The Mi-3 can be purchased at $330 (U.S dollar) compared to the $733 iPhone 5c price tag, and is available directly to consumers online rather than sold in retailers. Xiaomi uses a different tactic from Apple in that they offer the device at a relatively low price, and then sell services to users in order to make a profit as the customers use the phone (just as Amazon sells e-books to Kindle users; i.e. product complements). Also, Xiaomi is receptive to consumer feedback and guided by users, whereas, Apple has a very standard and rigid operating system with limited freedom. Because Apple does not hold the same level of loyalty in China as in other regions, these products can be analyzed as substitutes in the market, and as the first three weeks of sales has shown, Xiaomi is controlling more of the market share than Apple's iPhone devices in China. I personally believe it is in response to the price to consumer value comparison among substitutes available.
Additionally, this article was intriguing because as Apple is penetrating the Chinese market, Xiaomi is attempting to, for the first time, develop new products for the international market. It will be interesting to see the success (or failure) of these competitive efforts.