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Apple responds to competitive pressure with rare discounts on iPhones in China

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In response to growing competitive challenges in the world’s largest smartphone market, Apple has initiated rare discounts on its iPhones in China, slashing retail prices by up to 500 yuan ($70). 

The U.S. tech giant implemented a 5% price reduction on select iPhone models, as indicated on its Chinese website on Monday. 

This time-limited promotion, labeled as a Lunar New Year event, is set to run from January 18 through January 21, leading up to the mid-February holiday.

The move comes as Apple faces intensified competition in China, with its latest iPhone 15 series experiencing lower sales compared to previous models.

Homegrown rivals like Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi have been offering competitive alternatives.

Additionally, reports suggest that certain companies and government departments in China have been limiting employees’ use of Apple devices, echoing U.S. government restrictions on Chinese apps for security reasons.

According to Jefferies analysts, Chinese iPhone sales witnessed a 30% decline in the first week of 2024 compared to the same period the previous year. 

They also noted a 3% decline in sales for all of 2023. 

Analysts anticipate a more challenging competitive landscape for Apple in China throughout the year.

The decision to reduce iPhone prices is a departure from Apple’s trend of not cutting prices for its latest models in recent years. 

This move follows the surprise announcement at the September launch of the iPhone 15 series, where Apple chose not to raise prices. 

Online shopping platforms, including Pinduoduo, have also been independently lowering prices on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro by as much as 16% since the beginning of the year.

Nicole Peng, Senior Vice President of market research firm Canalys, commented on the situation, stating that the discounts were not unexpected as Apple faces the challenge of boosting global sales, particularly in China. 

She noted, “It is clear that Huawei is making a comeback. Some Chinese consumers may return to using Huawei as driven by patriotism.”

Canalys anticipates that Apple’s sales will remain flat worldwide this year, with a slight decline expected in China. Apple has yet to comment on the situation.

Stay tuned for further updates on Apple’s market strategy and performance in China.

Source: Reuters

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Rs. 20 Bn loan lifeline for SMEs

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The government has taken measures to implement a Rs.20 billion credit scheme to revive the micro, small and medium enterprise sector in Sri Lanka.  

Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers has granted its consent to the proposal forwarded by President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies Minister to implement a credit scheme to revive the micro, small and medium enterprise sector.

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet media briefing held yesterday at the Government Information Department, Cabinet Spokesman, Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said the proposed Rs.20 billion will be spent on the entire project which has two components.

“Out of this, Rs.15 billion will be used to strengthen existing and new enterprises and the remaining amount of Rs.five billion will be used to support enterprises under the non-performing loan category.

A significant number of small and medium scale entrepreneurs involved in manufacturing, import, export, tourism, apparel and various other commercial operations have found it very difficult to continue running their enterprises as a result of the economic downturn and the impact of external factors beyond their control.

The Asian Development Bank has agreed to provide working capital support for the Small and Medium Enterprise sector as a relief. The proposed programme is intended to provide credit facilities to existing micro, small and medium scale enterprises for further expansion and recovery of their businesses through licensed commercial banks and licensed specialised banks at concessional interest rates.

(dailynews.lk)

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Won’t be able to offer SriLankan to investors even for free – Minister

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Ports, Shipping, and Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva yesterday (26) spoke firmly on the national carrier – SriLankan Airlines, stating that the airline’s disruptive employees and tarnished reputation would deter potential buyers in the privatisation process.

Speaking at a media briefing yesterday, he said  “We cannot run an airline with disruptive employees. This is a critical moment for SriLankan Airlines. We cannot afford to entertain employees who fail to handle situations under pressure.”

“The deadline for the Expressions of Interest (EOIs) is set for 5 March and in the present scenario, according to the information I received some of the bidders want to withdraw. With the negative reputation plaguing the airline, we will not be in a position to offer it free-of-charge even,” the minister claimed.

However, SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage’s views had contrasted starkly with that of Minister de Silva.

The discussion saw a disagreement regarding ground handling. Minister De Silva advocated for immediate privatization of the service, citing shortcomings. Chairman Pathirage, while acknowledging areas for improvement, argued that the lack of aircraft, not ground handling, was the primary issue. He blamed lengthy government procurement procedures for hindering fleet acquisition.

De Silva justified his push for privatization by citing the airline’s struggles and reports of potential bidders withdrawing their interest. While not inherently opposed to privatization, Pathirage emphasized the ongoing process and the lack of control the airline has in the decision.

Meanwhile, trade union representatives commended Pathirage for his leadership whilst blaming political interventions and its past management. 

“We all undoubtedly praise the Chairman for his leadership and unwavering commitment to operate this airline amidst all odds. Neither the employees nor the current management of the SriLankan Airlines are responsible for the cancellations and bad reputation, but the political intervention,” they stated.

They also slammed the former COPE Chairmen and MPs Dr. Harsha de Silva and Dr. Charitha Herath for disrupting the lease procedure of the airline when the aircraft were at a lower price. “They are responsible for all the operational delays the airline is facing at present,” they claimed.

(Excerpts : DailyFT)

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Australia’s United Petroleum enters SL market

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Australia’s United Petroleum has entered into an agreement with the Sri Lankan government to supply petroleum products to the Sri Lankan market.

According to United Petroleum Lanka, Australia’s United Petroleum entered into the relevant agreement with Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Power and Energy on Feb 22.

Following the signing of the agreement, United Petroleum is assigned 150 existing fuel stations and also has the right to build 50 new fuel stations in Sri Lanka.

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