Apple chief executive Tim Cook has his work cut out in China this year: the iPhone maker faces the looming threat of a court-ordered sales ban, the uncertain outcome of trade war talks and the roll-out of a new 5G network, where it finds itself behind rivals like Huawei and Samsung.
The complex outlook raises a challenge for Apple as it looks to revive its China fortunes after weakness there sparked a rare drop in its global sales forecast, knocked $75 billion from its market valuation and roiled global markets.
Cook told investors that the main drag on the firm’s performance in China had been a sharper-than-expected slowdown in the country’s economy, exacerbated by the impact of trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.
“We did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China,” he said.
Chinese shoppers told Reuters another element had been key: the high price-tag on Apple’s flagship phones.
Analysts said the firm faced a brewing storm of challenges: an economic slowdown, stronger rivals like Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] bringing out a comparable tech at lower prices and bubbling patriotic sentiment amid the trade war.
A Chinese court has also issued a preliminary injunction banning some Apple phones, part of a legal battle with chip maker Qualcomm Inc. This ban, potentially hitting iPhone models from the 6S through the X, has yet to be enforced.
On Thursday a local industry body, the China Anti-Infringement, and Anti-Counterfeit Innovation Strategic Alliance, called on Apple to heed the court order and not “trample the Chinese law by leveraging its super economic power and clout.”
Apple declined to comment on the group’s statement but has previously said it believes its current phones comply with the Chinese court’s order.
“These are tough times for Apple in China,” said Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint, adding the iPhone could see its market share slip to 7 percent this year in the face of stronger local rivals and worry about the sales ban.
Apple’s market share in the third-quarter of 2018 was around 9 percent, and has dipped from above 14 percent in 2015, overtaken by local rivals like Huawei, Oppo and Vivo.
Another question mark for Apple is its 5G strategy in China, where the U.S. firm is not expected to have a 5G-enabled phone until 2020, behind rivals like Huawei, Xiaomi Corp and Samsung Electronics.
China is looking to push ahead with its rollout of a faster 5G network, with a pre-commercial phase this year and a commercial network in 2020.
Some are looking to make an early bet on the technology. Huawei is planning a 5G phone mid-year, while Xiaomi is aiming for the third quarter. Samsung is expected to unveil a 5G phone in the first half of the year.
Industry insiders, however, said Apple would likely hold off until the fall of 2020 to have its own 5G-enabled phone, a strategy that would bypass the untested early period of the technology, but which could mean Chinese shoppers delay iPhone purchases or buy another brand that switched to 5G earlier.
“I’ll definitely be paying attention to 5G functionality when I buy my next phone,” said Wu Chengjun, a graduate student in Beijing who currently uses an iPhone X.
With the exception of Huawei, which makes it own 5G chips, Qualcomm is providing the technology to many of the major phone makers releasing 5G handsets this year.
“If you’re a [phone maker] looking for a ‘super cycle’ [of sales], if you don’t have 5G, your situation won’t get any better,” Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm’s president, told Reuters in an interview. “The carrier channel is going to be incentivized to start selling 5G phones in the second half” of 2019, he said.
But there are risks integrating 5G too early into high-end smart phones because the technology requires deeply re-designing the devices with multiple new antennas. Given spotty coverage in 2019, gambling on a new design before networks are mature could be more risk than reward, said Darryn Lowe, a Bain & Co partner who works with the wireless industry.
“When you think about 5G, it’s a heck of a lot more complicated than an aluminum strip running around the phone,” he said.
And other shoppers and analysts said Apple’s more cautious approach to 5G made sense and that the firm would not likely lose out too much to rivals by delaying its launch.
Apple’s decision to wait to adopt 4G until after other makers didn’t hurt it. But that was when consumers commonly purchased a phone every two years, a cycle that has elongated and might prompt buyers to want a more “future proof” device, said Glenn Lurie, CEO of Synchronoss Technologies and the former head of AT&T’s wireless unit.
“If you’re going to walk in to make a 30-month decision, the concept that I’ve already got 5G built in, it feels pretty good,” Lurie said.
But buyers such as Li Hongzhuo, 22, a student in Beijing, said he was interested in 5G, but it wouldn’t be the deciding factor and he preferred to wait until the technology was tried and tested.
“Typically my needs for my phone are high speeds for downloading videos or transferring files from chat apps. This will get faster (with 5G), but 4G already satisfies my needs,” said Li.
“I won’t really consider switching my phone until 5G has been operating stably on the market for some time without any bugs – or unless they stop offering 4G.”
6 Digital Marketing Ideas for Your Business
According to some reports, 81% of customers use the web to look up the products or services they want to buy. Moreover, 94% of B2B buyers said they do the same. This makes it obvious that you simply can’t survive in the business world unless you promote your company online. However, not every digital marketing idea is worth investing in. If you’re looking to create a strong online presence for your business, here are six digital marketing ideas worth considering.
Online contests and giveaways are one of the best ways to gain attention on the web. Everyone enjoys entering online contests and winning prizes, no matter what they are about. This is something you can use to your advantage. All you need to do is to find the right ways to reward participants. The rewards don’t have to be fancy, with freebies and discounts being the most popular choices among business owners. Another important thing to consider is how to make people participate. For instance, you can offer an entry in exchange for having them like your Facebook page or refer a friend or family member to your business.
Rely on graphics
There’s no doubt that one of the most important factors in online marketing are graphics. Every business out there has to work with professional graphic designers who’ll provide them with visuals to use in their marketing campaigns. Graphics are needed absolutely everywhere from your website to your social media pages. Depending on the size of your business, you can choose to bring in an in-house graphic designer or start working with a graphic design company. No matter what you decide to do, having them design you a beautiful Facebook cover photo and interesting Instagram stories is a must.
As reported at the beginning of 2019, 62% of users accessed the web from their mobile devices. While PC users will still visit your website often, it’s also recommended that you make it as mobile-friendly as possible. Small screens and short texts require you to use your creativity to the fullest and make sure more and more mobile user notice your business. Fail to do this and chances are you’ll see most of your visitors leave as soon as they realize their experience won’t be the same as if they were browsing the web using a PC.
Use online networking sites
We’ve all heard about LinkedIn and there’s no doubt this platform can help you generate buzz about your business. Create a page for your business and don’t forget to manage it every now and then. Moreover, it’s also critical that you use LinkedIn and networking on a personal level. The best thing about this platform is that it’ll provide you with lists of your friends’ friends you can connect with and grow your career. Not to mention that there are groups on both LinkedIn and Facebook you can join and give your local presence a boost.
Create quality content
One of the biggest reasons why people use the internet so much is that they’re looking for information. And who are they going to listen to more than people who’ve been in the industry for some time? Use your knowledge and experience to create content and share it with people online. If you’re a gifted writer, creating content other people will like shouldn’t be tough. You can even take a look at your old content and see if there are any articles you can repurpose.
Promoting your business online isn’t easy and with every company now getting on the web, it takes creativity and hard work to stand out from the crowd. Have these six ideas in mind and your company’s online presence will be guaranteed to get a boost.
5 Ways You Can Use Technology to Improve Customer Experience
Customer experience is a collection of impressions that your audience gets from doing business with you or merely by interacting with your brand. Therefore, pinpointing what constitutes it may be quite difficult, due to the fact that different people get stimulated by different things. Still, this is a field where technology can be of immense help in more than one way. Here are five examples of how technology can be leveraged to improve customer experience.
1. Using chatbots
The simplest way to show your audience that you do care about them is to provide them with an immediate response when they try to contact you. This is exactly what chatbots are there for. Other than this, chatbots can drastically cut down the volume and gravity of human error, providing for much better customer experience. This way, you also get to increase your customer base and grow your operations.
2. Big data analytics
The biggest problem with interpreting the needs of your audience lies in the fact that there’s the subjective factor that you can never really predict or anticipate. With the help of big data analytics, such a thing might, at last, become a possibility. The bigger the number of your test subjects, the more reliable the results will be. Nonetheless, access to big data isn’t all that you need to focus on. What you also need to pay attention to is the right analytical tool. Some businesses even decide to go for business intelligence software, in order to help them turn this data into actionable information.
3. Automating your feedback-gathering process
The biggest problem with feedback lies in the fact that the majority of your audience doesn’t leave any. They go to your site or e-store, complete a purchase and leave things at that, leaving you in the dark to wonder whether they’re content with the service they’ve received. Nevertheless, by collaborating with platforms that specialize in the art of creating an efficient customer satisfaction survey, you can overcome this obstacle with relative ease. Other than learning a thing or two about your customer service (from reliable and credible sources), this way, you also get some responses that are good enough to be used in testimonials. All in all, your options are quite numerous.
4. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)
The very term experience is something highly subjective. However, what if you had the means to drastically increase the immersion of your customer’s interaction with your brand? VR and AR can help you do just that. First, it goes without saying that advertising and marketing will become more effective. Once you add one more dimension to your brand’s interaction with your customer base, you’ll be able to raise your customer experience to the next level.
5. Internet of things
The biggest downside of the manufacturing process is the lack of understanding of how the items you produce are actually used. You make your items to serve one purpose, describe the way they should be used and leave tutorials and guidelines for your customers to follow but is there really a guarantee that these items will be used in this way? Of course not. With the help of internet of things (IoT), you might finally be able to get some insight into the life of your products once they leave your inventory. This insight alone will help you drastically improve their efficiency and, therefore, customer experience that comes from them.
The very last thing you need to keep in mind is the fact that customer experience isn’t a feature, but the overall impression that your customers have after interacting with your brand. Still, with the help of technology, you can gather data on what matters to them the most, as well as what works the best. Some tech trends offer additional features for your customer base to embrace, thus taking you one step further.
Reasons to Outsource Social Media Management
Outsourcing has become very popular among modern companies. Having professionals take over part of your business process and not having to deal with it on a daily basis is a great option. Not to mention that you don’t have to hire a professional to do only one thing in your company, just opt to outsource it to someone who does only that and pay for the service, not the talent. There are numerous reasons why outsourcing social media management makes so much sense, and we are going to cover some of those reasons today.
When do you know you need a social media manager
Most companies do not realize how important the presence on social media is for obtaining new clients and maintaining old relationships. This is why hiring an inexperienced intern to take over this part, or having someone post something a few times a month. This is not a valid strategy and ends up costing your company a lot. Having consistency is essential. So if you are not certain you have the right people or tools to take this on it is essential that you outsource it to the best possible expert who will be able to handle the workload and ensure that there is a foolproof social media strategy in place to ensure the best possible results for your company. Taking into consideration that there are currently 3.397 billion active social media users this is a channel you cannot afford to overlook.
Having a strong social media presence can help establish your brand
And having an experienced social media manager who can take on this challenge is essential. They will know what are the best strategies for your company. You need to have a strong presence not only to attract possible customers but also to quality SEO lead generation as conducting outreach from LinkedIn, Facebook can be far more efficient if you have an established name and following on the selected social media platforms. Leads that you are contacting respond better to recognizable brand names and to companies they can research and read about directly from their customers.
Your social media manager will know which tools to use
This is one of the biggest benefits of outsourcing social media management. You won’t need to invest in all the latest tools and products needed for this section of the business process. The company or person you outsource it too has already all the necessary tools and the required knowledge of how to use them, making it the process itself far more efficient. In addition, using the right tools for social media management can ensure that you get the desired results far more efficiently than if you did the whole process alone, step by step.
Saving both time and money
This is definitely the most important reason to outsource social media management. First of all, having an expert take over means that you won’t have to allocate your own time and resources to deal with this marketing aspect. Secondly, you will only have to make one single monthly payment and not think about additional investments into ads or tools that can be quite costly. Based on the social media management plan that you get from the company you have outsourced so you can get all the necessary information regarding what you are paying for and be able to monitor the desired progress.
There you have it, valid reasons why social media management outsourcing makes the most sense for both you and your company. All that is left is finding the perfect fit so that you can outsource it as soon as possible.