There’s a new cult sweeping the tech world. No, this cult is not made up of owners of Apple or Android smartphones and tablets. It’s the Cult of Apple Critics, a loosely organized but highly insidious group of tech writers and pundits, and market analysts. Their claim to fame is biased reporting of the Fox News caliber; inflammatory headlines and arguments with little, if any, factual evidence to support a flimsy premise.
The latest comes from Forbes, which now relies on contributors rather than the traditional editor-writer model. Contributors is a euphemism for ‘writers that cost less.’ In this case, you get what you pay for, Forbes. These so-called contributors are more adept at link bait headlines than insightful analysis.
My father once told me that if the only tool you know how to use is a hammer, then every problem will look like a nail. So it is with Gordon G. Chang, a Forbes contributor who thinks China’s Xiaomi is the cat’s pajamas among smartphone makers. Xiaomi is expanding, while Apple is, well, expanding, too.
Cupertino should be worried. Xiaomi’s Mi3 in China is cheaper than the iPhone 5c—1,999 yuan versus 4,488—and better—the Xiaomi phone has a larger and sharper screen and a camera with higher-density pixels.
Apple doesn’t seem to be worried much about all the cheaper smartphone and tablet makers which have larger screens and more pixels, so why should Xiaomi be any different?
Well, it seems that contributor Chang writes primarily on China, Asia, and nuclear proliferation, and since there’s not much of that going on, he picked up an Apple Basher’s Badge at the last meeting, and, well, here we are.
Unless you insist on having a depiction of a piece of fruit on your device, you will go with the Xiaomi offering every time.
Apparently the only difference between a Xiaomi smartphone and an iPhone is that the iPhone’s price is double and comes with a fruity logo. Yes, that’s the kind of insightful analysis you get from Forbes these days. See what cutting costs gets you?
Is there a paragraph that details the differences or similarities between a Xiaomi smartphone and an iPhone? How about a sentence? Nope. The only difference is in price. Both are equivalent smartphones but one is half the price of another. Case closed. Apple loses.
What about China, Xiaomi’s home territory?
The American company came in at about 7 million in the period, enough for sixth place behind Xiaomi’s No. 5 ranking.
So, Xiaomi sold about the same number of smartphones as Apple sold iPhones in China (where sales are skyrocketing), and from that analysis Apple should be worried.
Why? Because, well, you know. Cheaper always wins. Except when it doesn’t. Which, based upon Apple’s 80-percent profit share of the industry, and Samsung’s 20-percent profit share of the industry, doesn’t seem to leave much room for cheaper smartphones to save the day for themselves.
Chang shortchanges his readers and his anemic argument by using data from Canalys and IDC, both paragons of accurate research (read: ‘No they’re not‘). Xiaomi will grow by shipping 100-million smartphones into China, India, and Africa, the latter two of which Apple has a nominal presence.
In two or three years, as smartphone owners in those regions decide to trade up, what will be on their list? More cheap plastic from Xiaomi? Or, oh, you know, maybe– an iPhone?
Xiaomi is heading to ten new countries this year, and it’s not hard to figure out why.
Duh. Why would a company that makes a product want to expand to new markets?
Where Forbes’ contributor network of low cost outsourced writers fails is in the details. Where are the product comparisons which make a Xiaomi Mi3 a better value than an iPhone or Galaxy? What kind of profit does Xiaomi make? Where are the details about how Xiaomi expects to finance itself in those new markets if it’s not making much money on the current line of products? What impact, if any, has Xiaomi had on Apple or Samsung?
Methinks the honorable Mr. Chang should stick with articles on nuclear proliferation and avoid the difficulties inherent with writing about technology companies. You know, the kind that make and sell products for a profit, and where insightful analysis requires, well, uh, insight, comparisons, and conclusions. Jumping to conclusions first just seems wrong.
Then again, there’s that newly minted Apple Basher Badge…