As global consumers shop mobile, Apple outshines rivals

Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:33pm EST
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By Leila Abboud and Alistair Barr

PARIS/PALO ALTO, Calif (Reuters) - Apple's 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 doesn't 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. Amazon's Kindle devices were also little in evidence, though that likely reflects its greater online sales focus.

Apple and its rivals are duking it out in displays, buying advertising and mobilizing armies of employees to try to win over the swarm of shoppers who will hit malls across the globe in coming weeks.

Loyalty to Apple's compelling orchard of products seemed to be a first line of defense 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.   Continued...

A customer is helped by an Apple employee while looking over the iPad mini after the device went on sale at Apple's retail store in Palo Alto, California in this November 2, 2012 file photograph. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/Files