Apple's Chinese online store has added the ability for customers to buy products on credit. The interest-free monthly payments allow customers to purchase items between 300 yuan (US$48 as of this writing) and 30,000 yuan ($4,800), provided they have a China Merchants Bank credit card. The move is seen as a way for Apple to lure customers from buying cheap Android handsets, according to TechCrunch. The price of the entry-level iPhone is 5,288 yuan ($850) -- which is about six week's worth of pay for the average Chinese worker.
TechCrunch notes that the interest-free deal might be a limited New Year promotion, however. The Google translation of the wording on Apple's Chinese website reads: "Apple Store online store to purchase any of the products to more than 300 yuan, you can apply for installment service. From now until January 23, 2013, three to 12 can enjoy interest-free service." Apple currently offers 18- and 24-month payment options with interest up to 8.5 percent.
Adding more options that let more Chinese consumers easily buy Apple products only makes sense for the company. As Tim Cook said last week: "China is currently our second-largest market. I believe it will become our first. I believe strongly that it will. We are growing very fast. We are continuing to invest in retail stores here and will open many more over the next several years. We have some great sites selected, our manufacturing base is here, and we have incredible partners here. So it's a very, very important country to us."