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Apple is teaming up with mobile payment firm Alipay to give Chinese consumers the option to finance their purchase of new iPhones. The new program arrives amid slowing iPhone sales in China.
Apple is losing the fight in China
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has made no secret about the fact that its sales in China have been declining rapidly in the last calendar year, some 15 percent or so. Apple CEO Tim Cook didn't beat around the bush in January when asked about China's lagging sales:
If you look at our results, our shortfall is over 100 percent from iPhone and it's primarily in greater China... It's clear that the economy began to slow there for the second half and what I believe to be the case is the trade tensions between the United States and China put additional pressure on their economy.
Mr. Cook alludes to the trade war between the United States and China, and to the greater economy as a whole. These factors probably aren't helping, but it seems that Apple has simply priced itself a bit high in the market (a wrong it sought to right recently), in addition to a general consumer preference shift in mainland China that has seen Huawei move into the spotlight there. Its not helping that Huawei has been bringing some very high end handsets to market at steep discounts versus Apple's devices.
New financing program may boost iPhone sales in China
Apple has announced they will be partnering with Alipay, a popular mobile payment platform in China that boasts over 700 million registered users. Apple is conspicuously ignoring its own Apple Pay service, which makes sense as the offering failed to gain any real traction in China.
Alipay will be offering the deal through its lending service called Huabei, which translates into English as "just spend". Seems simple enough!
Buyers will be given 24 month zero-interest financing with no option to opt for a shorter term. The offer is currently being ran through March 25th. The program will accept any requests for about $550 in financing, which in China means anything iPhone 8 or newer will qualify.
Apple is doing all it can here to bolster sales of its flagship product, the iPhone. Apple saw a decrease of nearly $5 billion in China last year and the firm is betting a financing program may entice buyers back to the iOS camp. Since the promotion runs out at the end of the quarter, and assuming its not renewed (which it may very well be if proven successful), we should get a good idea of its relative effectiveness come Apple's next earnings report around April of this year.
Apple shares are down today one percent to $170.72 per share. The stock has a 26 week high of $233.47.