Apple launched its first China store in Beijing last Saturday, with 2000 fans waiting outside, including some celebrity names such as Lu Yu (Phoenix TV), Cui Jian (China rock star) etc. You can see the scenes of Apple launch at Sina (Chinese), or preview pictures at David Feng. The Sina picture reminds me of the iPhone launch here in the US, a mob scene 🙂
The cult culture
Over the years Apple has this cult like culture among its fans. Looking at site such as MacRumors you will get an idea. While I think Apple products are generally very good, I don’t like their prices. It seems they are going to lower their prices, as they are expanding their market. This is a delicate problem for Apple because people usually got wooed to Apple because of its unique design, cool brand, and thus get the “being cool” status from friends. Now if Apple is everywhere, like iPod did, it loses that status. But Apple is going to pursue this route anyway, under the pressure from Wall Street. This can be shown in its earning forecast for next quarter.
Apple released its 3Q 08 earning yesterday, and the number was good. But it offered so-so guidance, which drove its stock lower today. We know Apple usually likes to sandbag its earning guidance, i.e., they lowered the expectation, and then try to beat it. But this time the number is much lower than expectation, which makes people (e.g., tech-ticker guys) think they are trying to get market share at the expense of profit.
These days I am hasitate to buy a stock when the buzz is all around. Apple just released its iPhone 3G on July 11. While I think Apple will do well in China and many emerging market, I think the current valuation is too high for a large cap consumer-fashion-tech stock. Also keep in mind the US economy is in recession, so this back to school season will not be strong. Considering all this, I would not touch AAPL for now.