20 April 2019
‘Sandwiched’ between cheaper earlier models and the more advanced upcoming iPhone X, Apple’s iPhone 8 devices have met with muted response from consumers. Photo: Reuters
‘Sandwiched’ between cheaper earlier models and the more advanced upcoming iPhone X, Apple’s iPhone 8 devices have met with muted response from consumers. Photo: Reuters

iPhone 8 makes tepid debut. Should we be surprised?

Do not go in with preconceived notions or take anything for granted when it comes to assessing the prospects of high-tech products in Hong Kong.

The first sign I saw upon entering Sin Tat Plaza, the largest trading market for Apple smartphones in Hong Kong, was about iPhone 7, not the latest iPhone 8.

Wondering if I was reading it wrong, I took off my eyeglasses, cleaned them and put them back on to take a closer look.

Yes, it was indeed iPhone 7 and iPhone 7S that were being billed as the hot items, rather than the newer versions of the Apple phones.

The reason why the 7 series have suddenly gained traction is this: the phones were coming at a discounted price following the debut of newer models last week.

Apparently customers did not see a big difference between the two iterations of the handsets. Or more likely, they felt the iPhone 8 did not justify the price premium of HK$1,300. (iPhone 8: HK$5,988 vs iPhone 7: HK$4,688, for starter versions).

Despite being considered a lucky number, the 8 series of the Apple phones are getting a somewhat cool reception in the market.

It’s because those who want to upgrade would rather go for iPhone X, which is something that is really new, instead of settling for the 8 which is more or less similar to the iPhone 7. 

For Apple fans who don’t mind paying top dollar, iPhone X — which will see pre-orders open late next month — seems to be a good option, while for price-conscious consumers the iPhone 7 has suddenly become more appealing. 

Sandwiched between the two, the iPhone 8 appears to have lost out. 

The muted reception for the 8 series handsets was evident from the relatively thin crowds at Apple’s various flagship stores in Hong Kong, and elsewhere, following the launch.

Given the weak market response, one wonders if Apple will resort to a price cut, something that it had never done before for new models.

Many people, in fact, are questioning why they are being asked to buy an outdated phone in the first place.

Well, the tech arena is full of surprises! 

Aside from iPhones, consumers in this city are confronted with difficult decisions when it comes to another, albeit unavoidable, activity — computer upgrades.

Let me speak from my own experience.

To speed up my outdated computer, I am now buying a portable motherboard for HK$800, paying more for something that was priced at HK$500 last year and HK$600 two months ago.

When I enquired about the reason for the higher price, I was informed that it was because the DDR4 RAM, or double data rate fourth-generation synchronous dynamic random-access memory, chips were costing more due to a surge in demand.

Forget Moore’s Law or Silicon Economics where we were led to believe that prices would halve every 18 months. Some popular products may just have longer shelf life with steady pricing.

Well, we need time to adjust to abnormality. But changes are sometimes good – at least they make life more interesting.

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EJ Insight writer

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