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Apple Inc. (AAPL): China Survey Says It Has a Lot of Work to Do?

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been talking up and down the last several months about the importance of the China market to its future. CEO Tim Cook has visited the countries at least a couple times (that we know of), and the company has been working closely with Foxconn as a manufacturing partner for many smartphones and tablets. But is it possible that the drumbeat may just be  an admission that “hey, we’re late to the party”?

After all, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has had an opportunity to develop some deep roots in the vast China market – including a line fo handsets that fit a variety of budgets – while Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been solely focusing on its iPhone and iPad models – the single models with the premium price point. You know, the price point that seems only to fit the very small affluent market in China. Many have read that Tim Cook’s various comments about China have seemed to indicate a willingness for Apple to develop a lower-budget smartphone to reach into these emerging markets like China, India and Brazil.  But according to a recent survey, while it may not be too late for Apple to grab market share in China, the window sure seems to be closing.

Jony Ive, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)In asking China residents about their smartphone preferences, Trendforce found that nearly three in five of the 5,000 smartphones users said they would rather buy the newly released Galaxy S4 smartphone by Samsung rather than the latest iteration of the iPhone by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). However, on the bright side of the survey, more than half (52 percent) of respondents said they wanted to own an iPhone.

Call me a survey skeptic, but there seems to be more than just an opportunity here. This skeptic doesn’t think a window is closing or that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has work to do to gain market share, any more than any other company with 10 percent market share in China like Apple currently possesses. Apple is in a good position to make strong strides in the country, provided it comes out with a lower-budget phone. Apple has so much name recognition that for its premium-priced iPhone to have 10 percent of the market bodes well.

And as for the Samsung S4 being the choice of the majority of Chinese consumers? Methinks that if this survey was taken two or three months ago when the SIII was still competing with the iPhone 5 as the latest smartphones, the survey may have had different results. And let’s check this survey in about three months time, after the rumored iPhone 5S comes out as the latest model of iPhone.

I’m not so sure Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) needs a whole line of handsets to compete with Samsung in China…

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