People don't think Apple's iPhone is a good value for the money

Here’s one issue with Apple’s brand: People don’t think it offers good value for the money, according to a survey conducted by UBS.

Only 20% of 6,500 people surveyed by UBS in the US, the UK, China, Germany, and Japan say that Apple’s iPhone “offers value for money.”

That’s far behind rivals like Samsung, LG, and Nokia. It’s even behind lesser-known brands such as Meizu and ZTE.

“It’s a little off-putting that Apple is way at the bottom for ‘offers value for the money,'” UBS analyst Steven Milunovich said during a conference call to discuss the survey.

“Relative to previous surveys, Apple’s ranking pretty much declined across the board, suggesting that the competition may be catching up and the differentiation of the iPhone is beginning to wane,” he continued.

Still, 48% of surveyed consumers say Apple produces high-quality products, and 33% of people say Apple’s products are unique.

China problems

Apple’s meteoric rise to become the most valuable company in the world was fuelled by its status as a luxury brand. People, especially in China, aspired to own an iPhone.

It seems like that tide is turning in China, according to the company and new survey data released by UBS. Apple sold 15% fewer iPhones in China during its 2016 fiscal year than it did in 2015, and there are some signs that the trend could continue.

“Our Evidence Lab Global Smartphone Survey finds strong US demand with a shift toward the Plus but weaker China interest than the prior two product cycles,” Milunovich wrote in a note distributed to investors on Friday.

UBS’s telecom analyst in Asia, Jinjin Wang, believes demand for the iPhone 7 is not as strong as it was for the 6S, although it’s difficult to fully quantify because of supply constraints.

Apple’s retention rate is down in China, as well, according to the UBS survey:

However, Milunovich warns there are mitigating factors. Simply put, there are a lot of consumers in China who say they don’t know what their next phone will be, and that suggests “Apple could have quite a good cycle in China” if its next iPhone is a winner.

Strong overall

Still, UBS says Apple is a buy and gives it a price target of $127. It sees strong iPhone 7 demand in the United States, and says that if Apple’s next big product — AR, healthcare, or driverless cars — could be identified, then it could be “very bullish.”

“For now we’re focused more on the iPhone cycle. But soon we’re going to have to think about what comes beyond the iPhone cycle. If 2018 is strong, 2019 could be a down iPhone year. At that point we’re going to want to see some new products,” Milunovitch said.


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