In the Western world, the mobile and consumer electronics markets have become so saturated that there’s little room for movement. Pretty much everyone who’s going to have a computer has one, and the same goes for cell phones. But, in the developing world (particularly China and Brazil) it’s a different story. Now, you can understand why Cupertino’s chiefs have made such an effort to take China by storm. It’s the world’s most populous country and has one of the fastest growing economies in the world thanks to a boom in manufacturing.
But then, there’s Brazil. To most it’s a dream holiday destination, famous for its football (soccer), beach volleyball and carnivals. We’ve heard already that Apple is set to open its first store in Rio de Janeiro, Apple’s made that much official. However, there is much more going on than just a store opening.
Cast your mind back a year: Foxconn opened its first manufacturing plants in Brazil, some of the biggest in the world. Foxconn – famous of course – for being Apple’s main assembly partner. The plant in Latin America is used almost exclusively for building iPads and iPhones. Add that to the new upcoming store, and you have a little more of a tell-tale sign that Apple’s up to something.
One of our readers – based in Brazil and with his own Portuguese Apple related blog – has had his ear to the ground and has spotted a few little pointers that Cupertino is taking this part of the world much more seriously than it would first have appeared. Firstly, in Sao Paulo – Brazil’s biggest city – Apple already has an office, and is currently advertising for a number of jobs there ranging from Tax Manager to Systems Analyst. Our source states that rumors are rife that our favorite fruit company is planning on launching a store in the Sao Paulo too, but, is using the Rio store as a “tester” to see how the market responds to the Apple store.
That may not seem like something that’s normal, but when you consider the relative cost of Apple products in the country, it makes a lot of sense. While we may be spending a 1-2k in the U.S. or UK on a MacBook, in Brazil it’s more likely to cost about twice that. The unlocked 64GB iPhone costs $1,700 USD (R$3,400). Gadgets are not cheap there, not in the slightest. For a premium brand like Apple to fully launch, it needs to be done carefully.
Added to all this speculation and evidence is another couple of tidbits. First up: Siri has been caught speaking Portuguese. Which is (obviously) the language of Portugal, but also the main language in Brazil:
Secondly, the App Store is featuring Brazil-specific content on its homepage:
So Foxconn moving to Brazil, hiring in Sao Paolo, preparing content and services and rumors of a second store are all pretty striking pointers. Apple wants to take South America by storm. Plus, it completely makes sense to have everything manufactured within the continent, it’ll undoubtedly help to keep costs down in the long run.
We’ll keep our eyes on this to see how Apple approaches such a vast and culturally diverse continent.