During Apple March event, Tim Cook unveiled a variety of new products and features, from the new Macbook Air to an Open Source toolkit for medical research.
But what stood out for viewers out there was the repeated attempt to seduce Chinese customers.
An unexpected beginning
The first frame of the Apple Keynote yesterday was more than unexpected:
Yes, before Tim Cook even took the floor, the first frame of the keynote was Chinese characters. The announcement of the opening of the new Apple Store in West Lake, China, followed by a 2 minutes long video of the opening ceremony.
The company currently has 21 stores in China, 6 of them being opened in the last 6 weeks, with an aggressive plan to reach over 40 stores by mid-next year.
The commitment of Apple to satisfy Chinese customers became borderline cliche as Apple strived to insert China-related elements at every point of the keynote.
From women dancing in Hangzhou:
To Chinese elders practicing Tai Ji Quan:
The whole strategy is reminiscent of Mark Zuckerberg’s Chinese skills demonstration: they are certainly bold and interesting, but their impact on the perception from the Chinese market is debatable. If anything, they translate a very Western perception of China rather than a deep understanding or empathy for the country.
That is to say, until they started talking about WeChat…
WeChat + Apple Watch
While demonstrating the Apple Watch, Kevin Lynch (VP for Technology at Apple) received a message from an unexpected origin: a “friend from China” getting in touch with him via WeChat.
It is worth noticing that it is an extremely adventurous approach for Apple to use WeChat in its Apple Watch demos: the APP is still virtually unknown in most of US and Europe. Apple is making a clear statement here: they are aiming at growth in China before any other market.
The interaction between Kevin and his friend Ziqiao is simple but smooth: he will have a short conversation involving picking into the sticker library of WeChat.
A match made in heaven?
Tim Cook and Kevin Lynch make it clear through the presentation: the Apple Watch is meant for short interactions through the day. Moreover, voice control is a key feature of the watch, given its extremely limited screen size.
This sounds a perfect match with WeChat, an APP which made its initial fame from its focus on voice messaging rather than solely text (unlike, for instance, WhatsApp). It is a longstanding explanation for the success of WeChat that this type of voice centered interactions were a better fit for the Chinese market, given the complexity of writing characters on a screen.
Given the eagerness of the Chinese market for Apple products, the willingness of Apple to push these products in their fastest growing market and this apparently ideal product fit, one can expect outstanding results in the months to come for the Apple Watch in China. Until Xiaomi and the likes step-up their game…