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Will the new gold iPhone lead to an unexpected windfall for Apple in China and India?

An anonymous Chinese businessman paid 10 million GBP for this gold iPhone. Will his fellow citizens opt for a less pricey model direct from Apple?
ChinaPublished This article is more than 2 years old.

Amid all the head-scratching about the apparently confirmed (but not by Apple) rumor of a forthcoming gold iPhone, one observation has come up again and again: It’s likely to be quite popular in China and India.

In China, “[N]othing trumps gold as a symbol of wealth and privilege,” Simon Cousins, CEO of China-focused PR company Illuminant told Gizmodo. All Things D, among others, has reported that the gold coating would be an option on the iPhone 5S. Other rumors suggest that Apple is releasing a high and a low-end model of the iPhone in September, so it’s possible that a gold-anodized finish on higher-end iPhones will help differentiate them from the lower-end model in emerging markets, and make it an object of desire. Gold is also extremely popular in India.

Consumers in this market might be disappointed, however, that the new gold iPhone won’t be as bling-ed out as many of the existing after-market gold-plated iPhone bodies. Rather, it appears the new iPhone will be a “champagne” gold color, like the discontinued gold iPod Mini.

Last quarter the iPhone 4 gained traction in India, where its lower price point attracted first-time smartphone buyers. Tim Cook has said that he continues “to believe that in the arc of time here, China is a huge opportunity for Apple,” and the company is clearly focused on opportunities for growth in emerging markets. Whether or not a gold iPhone will juice Apple’s numbers in emerging markets more than it alienates them in rich countries remains to be seen.

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