Apple phones still sold in China despite ban

Shoppers check out the iPhone X at an Apple store in Beijing, China. (File/AP)
Updated 11 December 2018
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Apple phones still sold in China despite ban

  • Apple has recently been overtaken by other competitors in China
  • Apple's high prices leave their products out of reach for many users

BEIJING, China: Apple stores in China continued with business as usual Tuesday despite a court-ordered ban on iPhone sales, but the US tech giant faces a growing nationalist backlash over the US-sought arrest of a Huawei executive.
According to US chipmaker Qualcomm, which requested the ban, the Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court ordered four Apple subsidiaries to stop selling older models of the iPhone, including the 7, 7 Plus, 8, and 8 Plus.
But Apple stores contacted by AFP in Beijing, Shanghai and Fuzhou said they were still selling those older models — confirming a company statement that all remain available.
Sales staff at a Beijing Apple store said they had not yet received any internal notices about the court injunction on iPhone sales.
“If the ban is ultimately imposed, there will be no Apple products under 6,500 yuan ($940) in China,” noted Wang Xi, a senior market analyst at research firm IDC.
That would give Chinese smartphone brands, such as Huawei, “more opportunities in the high-end market,” he told AFP.
Qualcomm’s request to halt iPhone sales is part of a long-running patent dispute with Apple.
Separately, Apple is also the target of nationalist sentiment over the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer in Canada at the behest of the United States on alleged Iran sanctions violations.
The Chinese government has condemned the arrest and demanded her release.
Some Chinese netizens and companies have also turned against Apple.
“What if China banned Apple the way the US has banned Huawei?” wrote one user on Twitter-like Weibo in a post that garnered more than 500 likes. “What if Apple lost its manufacturing center in China?“
Leaked company documents announcing rewards for Huawei purchases and penalties for owning Apple products are also circulating on Chinese social media.
A tech firm based in southwestern China, Chengdu RYD Information Technology, said it would reward employees who bought Huawei products with subsidies in an internal notice that it later confirmed via its official WeChat account.
The Shanghai Nanchong Chamber of Commerce confirmed that it too was offering subsidies for Huawei smartphones, and that staff and executive members of the business group would “lose their positions” if found with Apple products.
It seems that “general sentiment is gradually turning to against Apple and support Huawei now,” due to recent events, such as Meng’s arrest and the US-China trade war, said Wang.
China is a crucial market for Apple, but is has been overtaken by Chinese competitors in recent years.
According to a 2018 financial report, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were together Apple’s third largest market by net sales, after the Americas and Europe.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook has also made regular visits to China, and has touted the company’s inroads in the Chinese market as well as its manufacturing there.
But Apple’s premium-priced products remain out of reach for many users, increasing the appeal of more affordable phones produced by local companies.
Apple has the fifth largest market share in China, trailing behind Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi, according to data from IDC.
Qualcomm, the leading supplier of chips for mobile devices, serves several Apple competitors in China, including Huawei, and has been in a prolonged legal battle with Apple in recent years.
Apple has claimed that Qualcomm is abusing its market power over certain mobile chipsets in order to demand unfair royalties, joining a string of antitrust actions against the chipmaker.
Qualcomm has countersued Apple and earlier this year escalated its legal fight, claiming the iPhone maker stole trade secrets and shared them with mobile chip rival Intel.
According to Qualcomm’s US lawsuit, Apple’s goal was to buy mobile chips from Intel instead of depending on Qualcomm.
An Apple statement to AFP called Qualcomm’s effort to ban iPhone sales in China a “desperate move by a company whose illegal practices are under investigation by regulators around the world,” and added that “we will pursue all our legal options through the courts.”


Dubai property developer Damac on hunt for land in Saudi Arabia

Hussain Sajwani
Updated 18 March 2019
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Dubai property developer Damac on hunt for land in Saudi Arabia

  • Brexit a “concern” for UK property market says Sajwani
  • Developer mulls investing “up to £500 million” on London project

LONDON: The Dubai-listed developer Damac says it is scouting for additional plots of land in Saudi Arabia, both in established cities and the Kingdom’s emerging giga-projects such as Neom.
Hussain Sajwani, chairman of Damac Properties, also said the company would look to invest up to £500 million ($660 million) on a second development in the UK, and that it is on track to deliver a record 7,000 or more units this year.
Amid a slowing property market in Dubai, Damac’s base, the developer is eying Saudi Arabia as a potential ground for expansion for its high-spec residential projects.
Damac has one development in Jeddah, and a twin-tower project in Riyadh — and Sajwani said it is looking for additional plots in the Kingdom.
“It’s a big market. It is changing, it is opening up, so we see a potential there … We are looking,” he said.
“In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is the biggest economy … They have some very ambitious projects, like the Neom city and other large projects. We’re watching those and studying them very carefully.”
The $500 billion Neom project, which was announced in 2017, is set to be a huge economic zone with residential, commercial and tourist facilities on the Red Sea coast.
Sajwani said doing business in Saudi Arabia was “a bit more difficult or complicated” that the UAE, but said the country is opening up, citing moves to allow women to drive and reopen cinemas.
He was speaking to Arab News in Damac’s London sales office, opposite the Harrods department store in Knightsbridge. The office, kitted out in plush Versace furnishings, is selling units at Damac’s first development in the UK, the Damac Tower Nine Elms London.
The 50-storey development is in a new urban district south of the River Thames, which is also home to the US Embassy and the famous Battersea Power Station, which is being redeveloped as a residential and commercial property.
Work on Damac's tower is underway and is due to complete in late 2020 or early 2021, Sajwani said.
“We have sold more than 60 percent of the project,” he said. “It’s very mixed, we have (buyers) from the UK, from Asia, the Middle East.”
Damac’s first London project was launched in 2015, the year before the referendum on the UK exiting the EU — the result of which has had a knock-on effect on the London property market.
“Definitely Brexit has cause a lot of concern, people are not clear where the situation will go. Overall, the market has suffered because of Brexit,” Sajwani said.
“It’s going to be difficult for the coming two years at least … unless (the UK decides) to stay in the EU.”
Despite the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, Sajwani said Damac was looking for additional plots of land in London, both in the “golden triangle” — the pricey areas of Mayfair, Belgravia and Knightsbridge, which are popular with Gulf investors — and new residential districts like Nine Elms.
Sajwani is considering an investment of “up to £500 million” on a new project in the UK capital.
“We are looking aggressively, and spending a lot of time … finding other opportunities,” he said. “Our appetite for London is there.”
Damac is also considering other international property markets for expansion, including parts of Europe and North American cities like Toronto, Boston, New York and Miami, Sajwani said.
The international drive by Damac comes, however, amid a tough property market in the developer’s home market of Dubai.
Damac in February reported that its 2018 profits fell by nearly 60 percent, with its fourth-quarter profit tumbling by 87 percent, according to Reuters calculations.
Sajwani — whose company attracted headlines for its partnership with the Trump Organization for two golf courses in Dubai — does not see any immediate recovery in the emirate’s property market, or Damac’s financial results.
“(With) the market being soft, prices being under pressure, we are part of the market — we are not going to do better than last year,” he said. “This year and next year are going to be difficult years. But it’s a great opportunity for the buyers.”
But the developer said Dubai was “very strong fundamentally,” citing factors like its advanced infrastructure, safety and security, and low taxes.
In 2018, Damac delivered over 4,100 units — a record for the company — and this year, despite the difficult market, it plans to hand over even more.
“We’re expecting north of 7,000,” Sajwani said. “This year will be another record.”