Apple Inc is finding it hard to maintain its innovation edge and clear lead in China's smartphone market a year after the death of Steve Jobs. Just as it did during Jobs' era, the most valuable company in the United States still shows an indifferent attitude toward the Chinese mainland, even though the country is set to become the world's largest smartphone market.
China went without mention at the event to launch iPhone 5, the latest in the iPhone series, and there was indecision over the date for its launch in the country. These two facts show that Apple does not regard China as a primary market.
China is usually placed in the fourth-to-sixth category market for new products. It is clubbed with countries such as Latvia, Jamaica and Indonesia, which is ironical because global research firm Internet Data Center says that China will overtake the US by the end of the year to become the world's largest smartphone market.
Almost all Apple's premier products have been launched in China after making their global debut. This is true of iPad 2, the new iPad, iPhone 4S and now iPhone 5. Although foreign electronic gadgets have to go through a complicated approval process before being released in the Chinese mainland market, a delay of more than six months cannot be considered usual.
Some media outlets have said Jobs is to blame for Apple ignoring China, saying the IT legend placed the Chinese mainland market in the category of much smaller countries like Vietnam, Laos and Malaysia. Nothing proves the amateurishness of the categorization than the sale of over 31 million smartphones on the mainland in the first quarter of this year, a figure higher than the entire population of Malaysia, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International's data.