Apples stock may be sliding as investors fret about growing competition, but store visits and interviews with smartphone and tablet shoppers in 10 cities around the world suggest consumers share little of that negativity.
With tablets and other mobile devices the gadgets of choice this holiday season, Reuters canvassed over 70 shoppers and store employees across Sydney, Seattle, Palo Alto, Shanghai, Bangalore, Singapore, Paris, London, Mexico City and Boston for insight into what does and doesnt beckon.
Apple stores and electronics retailers were bustling last week, in contrast to the Microsoft pop-up stores in the United States promoting Windows 8 and Surface tablets, which were far less crowded.
Samsung appeared to be marketing aggressively, blanketing stores across major cities with signs for its Galaxy products and other devices, and large displays in many stores. Customers noticed, but only in Singapore and Bangalore did most of those spoken to by Reuters see it as a top choice.
Nokia, meanwhile, seems to have all but vanished from the front lines of the retail wars. Amazons Kindle devices were also little in evidence, though that likely reflects its greater online sales focus.
Apple and its rivals are duking it out displays, buying advertising and mobilising armies of employees to try to win over the swarm of shoppers who will hit malls across the globe in coming weeks.
Loyalty to Apples compelling orchard of products seemed to be a first line of defence for the Cupertino, California, company as shoppers in Europe, Asia and the United States weighed the pros and cons of switching to rival offerings.
Customers cited existing iTunes music and video libraries plus the traditional Apple virtues of simplicity and ease of use as reasons to stick with the iPhone and the iPad. I just taught my Persian grandmother how to use her new iPhone. Shes 77 and speaks no English, said Soheil Arzang, a 27-year-old law student in Palo Alto, California. With a Windows PC there are so many buttons, its confusing. I converted my parents officially to Apple iPhones, Macs and iPads.
In India, where mobile phone sales grew at a 47% clip in the third quarter, according to Gartner research, iPhones are still the gold standard, and many models were sold out.
But Androids are steadily attracting consumers. In tech-savvy Bangalore, the affordable smartphones are pervasive, replacing many of the Nokia feature phones popular in the past.
IPhones and iPads are too expensive for many Indians, but that didnt discourage a steady stream of keen window shoppers at an electronics market plastered with Samsung advertising.
You have to pay the Apple premium, but when you consider the ease-of-use and the whole Apple ecosystem, its well worth the money, said 29-year-old Karthik Venkataraman.
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* Apple stores and retailers were bustling last week, in contrast to the Microsoft pop-up stores in US promoting Windows 8 and Surface tablets, which were far less crowded
* Despite Samsung's aggressive marketing of its Galaxy products and other devices, but customers only in Singapore and Bangalore see it as a top choice
* Nokia seems to have all but vanished from the front lines of the retail wars. Amazons Kindles were also little visible, though that likely reflects its greater online sales focus