[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=iPhone+4&iid=9199086″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9199086/customer-displays-iphone/customer-displays-iphone.jpg?size=500&imageId=9199086″ width=”380″ height=”253″ /]I really hope some undercover Apple agents were present yesterday around the retail stores of the phone company that officially released the iPhone 4 in Saudi.
The scene of customers, all types of them: technical savvy, young, mature, students, and employees, all waiting in lines for hours to have the chance to get their hands on that magical device called iPhone 4 is an indication that Apple products are having a good opportunity to grow even bigger in the Saudi market (read more about it in this Saudi Mac post).
So the logical question in such situation would be: how come that a central country in the region with a huge fan base (and huge disposal income!) does not have a direct presence in the form of Apple Stores or at least a certified representative! To get an answer to such question, a one should be able to penetrate the Apple management minds, which is not a very wise nor save thing to do?!
By choosing not to be in the Saudi scene, Apple has allowed its products and its prices to be manipulated in the market and its fans to be taken advantage of (a friend told today that he knows someone who bought an iPhone4 before it was released in Saudi for about SAR7000 = $1866.5). And let’s not start talking about warranties and technical support.
Will Apple ever listen to its Saudi fans? lets wait and see …
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[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=grocery+shopping&iid=5210525″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/5210525/products-shelves/products-shelves.jpg?size=500&imageId=5210525″ width=”234″ height=”311″ /]Few days to Ramadan and the consumerism carnival has already started. Consumers, retailers, and the Ministry of Commerce and its monitoring bodies are the usual triangle sides of the price hiking struggle and debate; who did what to whom!!
One of the strangest analyses that popped out this year came from ‘an official’ at Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) according to Arab News (here) The manager of the Corporate Social Responsibility at the JCCI is saying that the consumers themselves are the problem of any prices hikes because, those bad consumers, have brand loyalty!!!! He is also adding that there is no need for any prices monitoring systems, and assures us all that the Saudi market is one of the most open markets in the world, even more open than the West!!
I am not sure how Mr. Official understands the concepts of brand loyalty, consumer protection, and open markets but here are some comments:
- When consumers trust a brand and develop some kind of attachment to it, then it should be their own choice to continue with it or not if the brand owner decided to increase the price for any reasons (e.g. manufacturing costs, new features, raw materials cost, etc). But when the prices increase not because of the brand owner but because of other factors in the local supply or distribution chains, then whose responsibility is this? And even more, what if the brand owner is a local who takes advantages of different seasons to increase prices without any reasonable justifications, whose responsibility is this?
- There are no contradictions whatsoever between free markets and consumer protection activities. Not only that, I can take it a step further and argue that, consumer protection groups are major signs of a truly free market!
- Prices monitoring is one of many responsibilities of consumer protection groups. Quality checks, fighting monopolies, be the channel of communication between the customers and other governmental bodies are all examples of such activities. Again, how all these activities contradicts free and open markets??
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