Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max, steeply discounted in China on weak demand

Apple Inc.’s resellers in China are slashing the price of iPhone 15 models by as much as $180, signaling an unusually prolonged slump in demand. iPhone 15 Pro Max handsets are now selling at prices 1,300 yuan ($180) lower than their original on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Tmall. It’s a steeper drop than the roughly $120 discount the company offered on its smartphone lineup around the same time last year, and there are similar reductions on Inc.’s online platform. Apple’s own store is selling the devices at original prices.

The latest iPhone generation has not matched the usual popularity of Apple’s flagship series in China. Since its launch in September, owing to a combination of economic difficulty across the country as well as the surprising resurgence of Huawei Technologies Co.’s smartphone business, the iPhone 15 family has lagged sales of its predecessors.

“Apple is catching up with the ‘deflation’ trend in China, intending to boost the demand for iPhones,” IDC analyst Will Wong said. “Based on IDC’s preliminary January data, the pressure was mainly coming from other Android vendors as we saw Apple decline by around 10% year-on-year in the month while Huawei grew triple-digits over the same period.”

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The latest discounts emerged after the Lunar New Year holiday, following rare price reductions on Apple’s website in January. A company representative did not respond to a request for comment.

Apple sales in China dropped 13% to $20.8 billion in the quarter ended December. That fell far short of the $23.5 billion predicted by analysts and was Apple’s weakest performance for that period in the Asian nation in years.

“Apple is offering a short-term promotional price to third-party channels as an early promotion for International Women’s Day,” said Ivan Lam of Counterpoint Research. “We observed that iPhone sales in the Chinese market are becoming increasingly dependent on promotions.”

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