Apple Inc. hopes to woo more Chinese with champagne iPhone

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SummaryApple's decision to add a champagne or gold covered iPhone is a departure from its black & white norm.

If Apple Inc. hopes to woo more Chinese by adding a glitzy coating - some call it champagne, some gold - to its next iPhone, it may be in for a surprise.

While gold is hugely popular as a safe haven and a status symbol - China is set to overtake India as the world's biggest gold consumer this year - shoppers at an Apple store in Beijing weren't all convinced it should be coupled with that pinnacle of mobile gadgetry.

Ni Suyang, a 49-year old worker at a Beijing state-owned enterprise, said that colour mattered less to her than the glass surface and silver metallic finish.

"A gold colour looks high-end but is a little tacky," she said.

Gold and mobile phones are not strangers. Britain's Gold & Co makes gold-plated iPhones, iPads and BlackBerrys which it also sells in India and China.

In Shenzhen many small local brands make gold-plated feature phones and smartphones. The less well-heeled can adorn their devices with jewel-studded and gold phone covers.

Apple's decision to add a champagne or gold covered iPhone to its range - confirmed by supply chain sources in Taiwan - would be a departure from its black and white norm.

Apple could be not reached for comment.

Commercially it makes sense, said Jerry Zou, Senior VP and Partner at FleishmanHillard, a public relations firm in Beijing. New colours would add "novelty and variety, both of which are key to winning over fickle Chinese consumers".

A champagne colour "would convey an image suggesting high-end luxury but a bit more restrained and subtle".

ALL THAT GLITTERS...

But browsers at Apple's Xidan store weren't so sure - even on which gender would like it.

"Gold is for guys, I think," said 22-year old Meng Xiang, a retail buyer working in Guangzhou, who said she preferred pink and white. "I would consider buying a gold iPhone for my boyfriend."

Cui Baocheng, a 48-year-old bank manager, disagreed. "I prefer black to gold," he said. "Men usually like black. Champagne might be very ugly."

Indeed, there's a danger that by trying to broaden its appeal Apple may end up undermining what makes the iPhone so desirable in the first place.

Younger Chinese see gold as old-fashioned and tacky, and are increasingly opting for platinum - dubbed "white gold" in Chinese - for weddings and gifts.

"An iPhone with more colours means that Apple is adapting to consumers' tastes, especially a gold colour that Chinese people like," said Xu

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