Gauging iPhone 8’s reputation in China
In anticipation of Apple’s upcoming iPhone 8, the Chinese web has been rife with various leaks and speculations on the product, the bulk of which displayed a landslide favor for the new product. Among these enthusiasts, it is suggested that a group of newly mature adult males have played a major role in the hype.
Between September 1 and September 7, the week before the scheduled released of iPhone 8 on September 12, more than 114, 378 searches on the keyword “iPhone 8” (苹果8) were made on Baidu (百度), China’s largest search engine. Among these Baidu users, 60 percent were male and 40 percent were female. In terms of age distribution, two percent of those who searched up the keyword were 19 years old or younger, 33 percent were aged between 20 to 29, 51 percent were aged 30 to 39, 23 percent were aged 40 to 49, while one percent were aged 50 or above.
Thus, male Baidu users have displayed a significantly higher interest toward iPhone 8 compared to female counterparts, whereas a large proportion of those who searched up the keyword belong to the relatively young portion of Generation X. This said, the following article walks through three of China’s major social media and provides a systematic survey of Chinese netizens’ opinions on the new Apple product.
Among Baidu users who searched the keyword “iPhone 8”, there were significantly more males than there were females. Source: Baidu Index (百度指数).
Among Baidu users who searched the keyword “iPhone 8”, those aged between 30 and 39 were most common. Source: Baidu Index.
Smartphones in China –– a matter of national pride?
In general, Chinese social media users have been kind to the new iPhone. On WeChat as of September 8, however, two out of the three most popular articles containing the keyword “iPhone 8”concerned not the phone itself, but rather a new accomplishment of one among Apple’s Chinese competitors–the networking and telecommunications equipment company Huawei (华为). The articles were composed by Cai Jing Nei Can (财经内参), the fifth most popular WeChat account in the business category, as well as Feng Zhan Zhang ZhiJia (冯站长之家), the 12th most popular account in the news category on the same day.
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According to these two articles, with 51,225 and 12,061 likes, respectively, Huawei’s newly released Kirin 970 processor (麒麟970芯片) is set to improve mobile devices’ speed, level of personalization, and ability to understand the world. Furthermore, to the authors of these articles, this innovation by Huawei embodies the excellence of Chinese smartphones ’ recent technological developments, which they claim is soon to overtake the glamour of foreign tech giants such as Apple.Throughout the articles, a case is made that the innovations of iPhone 8 are almost slight in comparison to that of the Kirin 970 processor.
Cai Jing Nei Can wrote: “Congratulations to Huawei for its major breakthrough! Apple is stunned, to the benefit of 1.3 billion people!” Source: Newrank.
“Forced to the corner? Huawei’s major breakthrough is frightening Apple! Haters please shut your mouths!”Feng Zhan Zhang ZhiJia wrote. Source: Newrank
A surface material so strong that the iPhone will no longer need a metal frame –– a step towards Apple’s quest for simplicity.
And yet, the success of Apple in China remains undampened in the hearts of many. While some netizens held a steadfast national spirit, there nonetheless existed on WeChat another camp of iPhone 8 fans who have rushed to praise the new foreign product. The social medium’s second most popular article as of the same day, with 13,696 likes, paid particular attention to iPhone 8’s screen and camera.
According to the article, posted by the WeChat account of the popular radio channel FM93 Jiao Tong Zhi Sheng (FM93交通之声), the new smartphone will have an OLED screen as well as a user interface which spans almost the entirety of the screen –– a feature long rumored and anticipated among Apple fans. Meanwhile, the article also expresses great admiration for the iPhone 8 camera’s 3D sensor and face recognition function. Thus, iPhone 8’s reputation in China has continued to run high.
“Entering? iPhone 8 is arriving on the 12th of next month! Full-screen + face recognition, and an absolutely beautiful starting price,” FM93 Jiao Tong Zhi Sheng wrote. Source: Newrank
Unveiling the excitement
On the popular Chinese social medium Weibo (微博), at the same time, bloggers have created a clamor over the new product by making speculations on the newest iPhone’s appearance and proposing to gift the product to their followers. The photographer SongLin (摄影师林松), for instance, asked his Weibo followers to like and share his posts in order to enter a lottery for iPhone 8. Of these posts, the most popular had garnered as many as 55,145 likes by September 8— becoming the most-liked Weibo post regarding iPhone 8.
Dian Shang Bao (电商报), a news outlet focused on e-commerce, on the other hand, made the second most popular iPhone 8-related post on Weibo. The post, which introduced the new iPhone color, “blush gold”, had gained up to 22,299 likes by September 8. Meanwhile, the third most popular Weibo post on iPhone 8 as of the same day, made by Sina Mobile (新浪手机), gained 14,091 likes with its humorous remark that the new iPhone 8 is rumored to have fringes, much like a lady from the Qing dynasty, as it referred to the layout of the product’s user interface. Thus, promotional and comical Weibo posts alike have contributed positively to iPhone 8’s reputation in China.
To encourage participation of a promotional event for his studio, the photographer Song Lin wrote on his Weibo: “iPhone 8, like me first. You all know what I’m saying, night.”Source: Weibo
“According to revelations, this year’s iPhone 8 is to come in three colors. Aside from the classic black and white, there will be a special color. This color is named “blush gold”…” Dian Shang Bao wrote. Source: Weibo
It is said that iPhone 8 has fringes too…”Sina Mobile wrote. Source: Weibo
iPhone 8, just as foretold
Meanwhile, on Zhihu (知乎), a popular Chinese discussion forum, many users have also been flaunting the upcoming iPhone 8’s pictures, features, and strategies. The most popular Zhihu post on the topic, made by the technology news outlet ifanr (爱范儿), attracted 2736 likes with its story of Apple and the glass manufacturer Corning’s (康宁) common vision of creating a surface material so strong that the iPhone will no longer need a metal frame –– a step towards Apple’s quest for seamlessness and simplicity. Furthermore, the second most popular post regarding iPhone 8 on Zhihu, also made by ifanr, provided expectations toward the new product, with special emphases on the high-efficiency A11 chip and OLED screen. Meanwhile, the Zhihu user Wu San Chi (五三七), a self-proclaimed secondhand mobile phone wholesaler in Shenzhen, also garnered 1,384 likes with photographs of the expected new product, alongside a supposedly “insider” confirmation on the various speculations behind iPhone 8’s reputation in China.
“Many will say that…iPhone 8 is so radical that it is unlike Apple. However, in view of the first iPhones and in view of iPhone 4, which has not been the most radical of its time––the most incredible?” ifanr wrote on Zhihu.
“Regarding iPhone updates, there is one thing you must know: Apple has regularly updated its processors from year to year…by the time it reached iPhone 7’s A10 processor, the system has significantly surpassed Android .” ifanr wrote in response to a Zhihu question regarding expectations toward the upcoming iPhone 8.
“Although the phone may not yet be activated, the device is almost exactly as rumored on the web. All those in mobile phone-related industries know that, at present, iPhone 8 accessories…have been entering the market in large numbers,” Wu San Chi wrote.
Thus, as the Chinese web hums in excitement for the much anticipated iPhone 8, the product has so far been viewed as visionary and near-perfect by the country’s netizens –– from the screen to the camera and processor. Now, it remains to be seen if the new Apple product will live up to its reputation as eager fans in China begin to unwrap their phones in no time.
Our research team in our Shanghai office