The economics of home buying are getting interesting, thanks to higher mortgage rates, tax changes and a supply-demand imbalance.
Poultry tariffs applied by Europe more than a half-century ago may account for the expensive, gas-thirsty pickups in American driveways today.
Conceived for an era of high gasoline prices, the F-150 has lost its fuel-efficiency selling point, while its key material has gotten costlier.
More than 2,000 Met employees — including members of the security, retail and ticketing staffs — have been trained (in part by the outside firm Strativity) in customer service techniques as well as communications and technical issues.
New signs have been installed at entrances to the Met, the Met Breuer and the Cloisters, and on the Met’s 82nd Street steps, to welcome and guide visitors, as well as to explain the admissions policy: “New York State residents and NY, NJ and CT students, the amount you pay is up to you.”
In the beginning, the Met will not be rigid about its new policy; those who show up without identification that validates their New York State residency will be asked to bring it next time. If people fail to pay over time, however, the Met will have to get tougher about implementation.
“We always have the option to make the policy more stringent,” Mr. Weiss said. “If people choose not to support it, we can always become stricter.”
Still, as the policy goes into effect, there are likely to be some operational headaches, as well as blowback from those who see the change as a betrayal of the Met’s role as a public institution. The museum was founded in 1870 in a city-owned building; 23 years later, a law providing state support to the museum mandated that its collections “shall be kept open and accessible to the public free of all charge throughout the year.” In 1970, the Met instituted a suggested admission fee.
“What are we valuing in this difficult political and economic moment?” said Amanda Williams, an artist and architect based in Chicago. “And for young people, especially little black and brown bodies, they are receiving more and more messages that they don’t belong.”
Other responses have been more sympathetic to the Met’s financial rationale, arguing that institutions all over the country are struggling to cover their costs.
“I understand that people would think it should be free, as I do,” said the artist Ross Bleckner. “But in reality, a museum can only squeeze so much out of the Kochs and the Sacklers and then you’re on your own,” he added, referring to two major donors.
“It’s a symptom of a systemic problem: monetizing things that should be a right, like health care, education and, now, culture,” he continued. “Why wouldn’t people expect culture to catch up with the rest of it all, and the mall-ing of New York City? We will get used to it. Sad but true.”
There has also been some internal grumbling at the Met about the new policy. Several curators oppose the change on philosophical grounds, and guards are chafing at their additional responsibilities, according to two employees who spoke on condition of anonymity, having not been authorized to comment publicly.
Rawle Campbell, the president of Local 1503 of DC 37, which represents the guards, recently posted a notice in the museum about the training sessions, saying that no guards “should be mandated to attend before the start of their shift or be disciplined if they do not.”
Credit Amy Lombard for The New York Times
The new admission charge is aimed at giving the museum an additional, reliable revenue stream of $6 million a year; Met admission fees currently provide 14 percent of its $305 million operating budget, or $43 million. That figure is expected to increase 16 or 17 percent — to $49 million — with the policy change.
In approving the new policy, New York City will reduce its annual subsidy to the Met and shift some of that money to cultural organizations in underserved parts of the city. The current city subsidy of $15 million that supports the Met’s energy costs will remain intact. An additional $11 million, which offsets the Met’s operating expenses for security and building staff, will decline on a sliding scale after the first full year, depending on how much revenue the new admissions policy generates, with a cap of $3 million.
Despite the public outcry that followed the announcement of the admission charge, the museum said it was not anticipating any visible protests on Thursday. But Aarti Kelapure, a San Francisco resident who organized a petition in January urging the Met to “reverse this classist and nativist policy and remain free for all,” said signatures continue to come in; the total is up to 27,000 so far.
In a statement responding to the petition, Mr. Weiss said: “The pay-as-you wish policy is intended to allow members of the public to contribute what they can to support this great institution. Perhaps the problem we are facing now is that people assume that The Met is free when, in fact, it depends on the support of its visitors to open its doors every day.”
Alex M. Azar II, the new secretary of health and human services, who was a top executive at the drugmaker Eli Lilly for nearly 10 years, echoed that concern. “That shouldn’t be happening,” he said.
Pharmacy benefit managers say they hold down costs for consumers by negotiating prices with drug manufacturers and retail drugstores, but their practices have come under intense scrutiny.
The White House Council of Economic Advisers said in a report this month that large pharmacy benefit managers “exercise undue market power” and generate “outsized profits for themselves.”
Steven F. Moore, whose family owns Condo Pharmacy in Plattsburgh, N.Y., said the restrictions on pharmacists’ ability to discuss prices with patients were “incredibly frustrating.”
Mr. Moore offered this example of how the pricing works: A consumer filling a prescription for a drug to treat diabetes or high blood pressure may owe $20 if he uses insurance coverage. By contrast, a consumer paying cash might have to pay $8 to $15.
Mark Merritt, the president and chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents benefit managers, said he agreed that consumers should pay the lower amount.
As for the use of gag clauses, he said: “It’s not condoned by the industry. We don’t defend it. It has occurred on rare occasions, but it’s an outlier practice that we oppose.”
However, Thomas E. Menighan, the chief executive of the American Pharmacists Association, said that such clauses were “not an outlier,” but instead a relatively common practice. Under many contracts, he said, “the pharmacist cannot volunteer the fact that a medicine is less expensive if you pay the cash price and we don’t run it through your health plan.”
A bipartisan measure that took effect in Connecticut this year prohibits the gag clauses. It was introduced by the top Democrat in the Connecticut Senate, Martin M. Looney, and the top Republican, Len Fasano.
“This is information that consumers should have,” Mr. Looney said in an interview, “but that they were denied under the somewhat arbitrary and capricious contracts that pharmacists were required to abide by.”
Mr. Fasano said that consumers were sometimes paying three or four times as much when they used their insurance as they would have paid without it. “That’s price gouging,” he said in an interview.
The legislation, Mr. Fasano said, encountered “a lot of resistance” from large pharmacy benefit managers and some insurance companies.
In North Carolina, a new law says that pharmacists “shall have the right” to provide insured customers with information about their insurance co-payments and less costly alternatives.
A new Georgia law says that a pharmacist may not be penalized for disclosing such information to a customer. Maine has adopted a similar law.
In North Dakota, a new law explicitly bans gag orders. It says that a pharmacy or pharmacist may provide information that “may include the cost and clinical efficacy of a more affordable alternative drug if one is available.”
The North Dakota law also says that a pharmacy benefit manager or insurer may not charge a co-payment that exceeds the actual cost of a medication.
The lobby for drug benefit companies, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, has filed suit in federal court to block the North Dakota law, saying it imposes “onerous new restrictions on pharmacy benefit managers.”
Specifically, it says, the North Dakota law could require the disclosure of “proprietary trade secrets,” including information about how drug prices are set. “P.B.M.–pharmacy contracts typically preclude a pharmacy from disclosing to the patient the amount of a reimbursement,” the lawsuit says.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican, said this past week that he would call a special session of the State Legislature to authorize the regulation of pharmacy benefit managers by the state’s Insurance Department.
He said he feared that some independent pharmacists receiving “inadequate reimbursement” from the benefit managers might go out of business, reducing patients’ access to care, especially in rural areas.
Despite efforts by the Food and Drug Administration to encourage more competition for drugs that have no generic alternatives, companies like Teva will still charge as much as the market will bear as long as there is no significant competition. And even companies that come under intense criticism, like Valeant, can often neutralize consumer upset through assistance programs.
While those can lower out-of-pocket costs for patients, the programs stick insurers with the bulk of the bill, which in turn can be passed on to consumers through higher premiums and deductibles.
Jay Copeland, 59, has been taking Syprine for a decade to treat Wilson disease, a condition that causes copper to build up in the body, leading to organ and neurological damage if not treated.
Calling the generic price “incredibly punitive,” Mr. Copeland said his employer’s insurance shields him from most of the drug’s cost, but he worries what would happen if he were to lose his job. Teva’s slightly lower price, he said, “would make relatively little difference to me if I were put in the position to pay enormous out-of-pocket costs.”
To encourage more generic competition, the F.D.A. recently published a list of off-patent drugs that have no competition and cleared a backlog of generic applications. But as the Syprine case shows, it often isn’t as simple as adding a single generic competitor.
“By and large, generics work when there are multiple players,” said David Maris, an analyst at Wells Fargo who wrote this week about Teva’s generic Syprine price. “When there’s not, you get this.”
If there are just a few players and if the drug treats a small group of patients, as is the case with Wilson disease, the companies will try to make as much profit as they can. Just 5,226 prescriptions were filled for Syprine, also known as trientine hydrochloride, in the first three quarters of 2017, according to the data research firm IQVIA.
Wilson disease is believed to affect between 8,000 and 10,000 people in the United States, and some with the condition take other drugs, according to Mary Graper, the vice president of scientific affairs at the Wilson Disease Association, a patient group.
“Generic companies are for-profit companies, too, and so it’s not surprising to me that they price the product at what they think the market will bear,” said Dr. Aaron S. Kesselheim, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School who has studied drug prices.
Credit Drew Angerer for The New York Times
A spokeswoman for Teva declined to comment on how it set its price, but said the company considers a range of factors. “If there is more competition and ample supply, pricing will continue to fall,” said the spokeswoman, Kaelan Hollon.
Teva, which calls itself the world’s leading manufacturer of generic drugs, has struggled in recent years with management turmoil, lost sales of a leading brand-name drug, and — in a twist — with the falling prices of many commonly used generic drugs. In December, it announced a major reshaping, including cutting 25 percent of its work force.
Patients with Wilson disease had been watching for the arrival of a generic Syprine, but Teva’s announcement took them by surprise, Ms. Graper said. «We had no idea what to expect, but I had personally hoped for more of a discount.”
Not to be outdone, Valeant followed Teva’s move with the release of its own “authorized” generic of Syprine. It’s a common tactic by brand-name drugmakers who want to compete directly with generic manufacturers without lowering the price of their brand-name product, which some patients continue to prefer. Valeant’s authorized generic sells for $19,119, according to Elsevier.
Lainie Keller, a spokeswoman for Valeant, said the list price for its generic did not reflect discounts the company negotiates with buyers, although she would not disclose those discounts.
She said Valeant’s patient assistance programs have recently been improved to ensure that privately insured patients only pay about $5 a month. Those without insurance can get the medication for free if they meet certain income requirements.
Valeant was once a Wall Street favorite that kept investors happy by buying up old, off-patent drugs like Syprine, sharply raising their prices, and investing little in research and development. That changed in 2015, when questions were raised about the impact this strategy was having on patients, and about the company’s financial practices and its ties to a mail-order pharmacy.
Congressional and federal investigations into the company’s practices followed, leading to a plummeting stock and the departure of the chief executive and major investors.
Ms. Graper, whose group accepts donations from Valeant and Teva, confirmed that Valeant’s patient assistance program has improved since members of her group testified before the Senate about how the company’s price increases led them to stop taking their drugs.
Such industry assistance programs have themselves come under scrutiny — including ones run by Valeant — because they have helped make high drug prices more palatable, easing patients’ out-of-pocket burdens while leaving insurers to pay the rest.
Ms. Graper expressed hope that if other generic competitors enter the market, the price will continue to fall. “I think we have to wait and see where these two land,” she said.
She and others said they were frustrated that despite a flurry of Congressional hearings, government investigations and promises by politicians, the price of many of the drugs that stoked the initial outrage remain as high as ever.
In addition to Syprine, Daraprim, an old drug used to treat a serious parasitic infection, is still $750 a pill more than two years after Mr. Shkreli became a social media villain for his role in raising the price overnight from $13.50.
The cost of the EpiPen is an exception to the trend. In response to the outcry over the EpiPen’s price, which reached about $600 at its height for a pack of two, Mylan came out with a cheaper, authorized generic. A pack of EpiPens can now be bought for about $300 at many pharmacies.
“I had hoped that something would come of it, that the politicians would take some action, but obviously not much has happened,” Mr. Copeland said. “It’s all disheartening.”
What Might Happen?
The biggest concern is that the internet will become pay-to-play technology with two tiers: one that has speedy service and one that doesn’t. The high-speed lane would be occupied by big internet and media companies, and affluent households. For everyone else there would be the slow lane.
The brand-name internet companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix, analysts say, will comfortably be able to pay the higher rent. It will not affect their business, though it may crimp their profits. Avoiding higher prices is one reason the major internet companies have been champions of net neutrality.
But higher prices may be prohibitive for start-up companies and new voices in the media and entertainment worlds. W. Kamau Bell, a comedian and host of the CNN documentary series “United Shades of America,” recently described in The New York Times how the internet is so often the path to popular and commercial success for newcomers. They upload a video and it goes viral.
That will no longer be true, Mr. Bell wrote, without net neutrality rules that “ensure that anyone who puts something on the internet has a fair shot at finding a life-changing audience.”
The government-backed guarantee of equal access is why public interest groups, nongovernmental organizations, charities and millions of private citizens wrote to the F.C.C. in support of the net neutrality rules.
But the broadband and telecom companies — and some economists — say that the freedom to charge different prices for different products and services is vital to healthy markets. That kind of “price discrimination,” they say, is the fuel of innovation and efficiency.
In a public comment earlier this year to the F.C.C., AT&T called the Obama-era rules “an unprecedented regulatory overreach for which there is no economic or marketplace justification.”
The F.C.C. rules mandated net neutrality principles under a utility-style telecommunications law, called Title 2, that dates to 1934. The carriers fear that it all but ensures price regulation.
“What they really object to is Title 2, not the net neutrality principles,” said Craig Moffett, an independent analyst.
Credit Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Comcast
So Whom Do You Trust?
The answer, like so many these days, is politically charged. The repeal reflects the conservative backlash against government regulation, which has been a hallmark of the Trump administration.
Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia University who is credited with coining the phrase “net neutrality,” said the repeal plan not only rolls back the Obama-era rules, it goes further. It specifically permits broadband carriers to block media content, Mr. Wu said, an added power which was not the case during the administration of George W. Bush.
“An allowance of blocking is really pretty shocking.” Mr. Wu said in an email.
Yet if government is in retreat, then consumers are left to trust the behavior of the internet-access companies like Charter and AT&T. In their filings with the F.C.C., the companies have claimed that faith would be well founded. Market incentives, Charter told the F.C.C., push the companies to provide the best service to its customers, catering to consumer demand.
Charter said it voluntarily adheres to net neutrality principles, and will continue to do so. “We do not block, throttle, or otherwise interfere with the online activity of our customers,” the company said.
But a weakness in the free-market argument, industry analysts say, is that in some regional and rural markets, households have only one internet provider available to them. That undermines the theory that competition will protect consumers.
Roger L. Kay, an independent technology analyst, predicted that larger bills — not content blocking — would be the most likely result. If the big internet and media companies will have to pay their carriers more for high-speed services, the expenses will trickle down to households.
Consumers, Mr. Kay said, “will end up paying higher prices for essentially the same service.”
You know how it is: Every Black Friday, you are bombarded with lousy shopping deals that do not offer as much of a discount on an item as you think. But there is a bright spot: If you are shopping for a television, it really is the best time to buy one.
To stoke sales, electronics manufacturers typically slash prices of popular TV sets during Black Friday to the lowest all year. This week, you will be able to buy high-quality televisions for $500 to $1,500 after discounts of 15 percent to 30 percent. That’s a deal considering that typically, many TVs in the $500 range are just O.K. and high-end sets cost upward of $2,000.
But as always, there will be duds to watch out for. Many TV brands take this opportunity to sell sets with exaggerated features that have subpar picture quality. And inside stores, TVs often look different from the way they would at home, because you probably don’t have gigantic lights in your ceilings like the showrooms at Best Buy.
“A lot of Black Friday marketing is designed to get the consumer interested in something, sometimes with not a lot of facts but a gut feeling of ‘I need to buy this,’ ” said Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate, a consulting firm that studies TV and smartphone screens.
So we did some research ahead of time. To help you scout for great TV deals, I interviewed experts on TV technologies and teamed up with Wirecutter, a New York Times company that reviews products. Here is our guide to picking out a TV you will be happy with this Black Friday, advice that may also come in handy if you are shopping for TVs over the rest of the holiday season.
To narrow down your search, the first rule of thumb is to assess the ambient light in your living room.
If your living room gets lots of sunlight, you will want a very bright TV with vivid colors that can overcome some of that ambient light that washes out your TV, Mr. Soneira said. In this situation, you would probably go for an LCD TV, which can produce very bright and sharp images.
CreditRobert F. Bukaty/Associated Press
If your living room has lower ambient light or if you have a dark theater room, go for a TV with more lifelike colors. In this case, you could go for televisions with so-called OLED screens, which can be made thinner and lighter with more accurate colors and contrast. In general, OLED TVs look better than LCD sets, but OLED TVs are not as bright, so their colors and shadow details can be washed out by bright sunlight.
And then there is content to consider. If you watch a lot of movies, you would benefit from an OLED television to get a picture that more closely resembles what the director intended you to see. But if you mostly watch sports or broadcast television, a good LCD television would be sufficient to get a clear, bright picture of the ballgame or your local news coverage.
In the end, your budget may drive your decision. Good LCD televisions cost as little as $500. A nice OLED television tends to cost $2,000 and up.
A Few Important Features
After you have decided on a type of TV, there are two important features to look for: local dimming and high dynamic range, said Chris Heinonen, a writer and TV tester for Wirecutter.
Local dimming is a technology that uses a backlight embedded inside the TV to make bright parts of the screen look brighter without washing out shadow detail. It also helps improve contrast and produce a more vibrant image.
High dynamic range, or HDR, is a software feature that enhances the contrast and color profile of a picture. In bright colors, you will see brighter highlights; in dark colors, you will see more details.
Most television sets today come with 4K high-definition resolution, also known as ultrahigh definition. But 4K videos won’t look very good if the TV lacks local dimming. In addition, the expanded color gamut from high dynamic range makes a big difference when watching videos in 4K, Mr. Heinonen said.
Here’s the tricky part: On Black Friday, many companies exaggerate the features on their TV sets to make them look more attractive. Here are some things to look out for.
■ Fake contrast ratio numbers. Contrast ratio is the difference between a TV’s peak brightness and lowest darkness. All you need to know is that a high contrast ratio helps make a picture look good. Manufacturers enjoy pumping up the contrast ratio of their TVs by listing results in unrealistic test settings, Mr. Heinonen said.
■ Unknown TV models. On Black Friday, TV brands also enjoy releasing obscure television sets with model names that are similar to popular sets but with inferior features. “They all do it,” Mr. Heinonen said.
For example, Samsung could hypothetically sell a TV set called MU8020, which sounds similar to the Samsung MU8000, a well-reviewed television. But the unknown TV might lack important features like local dimming.
■ Misleading display technologies. TV makers use confusing terms that may mislead you. LED televisions, for example, sound similar to fancy OLED televisions — but they are just LCD televisions with an LED backlight, Mr. Soneira said. In addition, companies advertise TVs with high dynamic range, but some sets are not even powerful enough to display HDR properly, Mr. Heinonen said.
Do Your Homework
The best way to avoid falling into any traps is to figure out what TV you want and keep track of its price leading up to Black Friday. Here’s a good place to start: Wirecutter put together a chart of the best TVs based on dozens of hours of testing. It highlighted sets from Sony, TCL, Vizio and LG.
Some TV makers have already announced Black Friday prices for a number of top-rated TVs. LG, for example, is selling an OLED TV, called B7A, for about $1,500 for the 55-inch set and about $2,300 for the 65-inch model. Originally, they cost $2,200 and $2,700. The $1,500 price is remarkably low for a high-end TV of this caliber and size.
In addition, Amazon is selling a great 55-inch Sony LCD TV with HDR for about $1,000, down from about $1,300. And Walmart is selling Vizio’s M50-E1, a well-reviewed 50-inch budget TV, for about $500, down from $600.
Whatever you do, try not to overspend. Mr. Heinonen said to steer clear of TVs that cost more than $3,000 because TV technologies were rapidly maturing and prices plummet every year.
“Paying a ton right now for the top of the line is really paying a premium when things are improving so fast,” he said.
In an email, the leaders of several of the largest Bitcoin companies said that “unfortunately, it is clear that we have not built sufficient consensus for a clean block size upgrade at this time.”
The New York Times Explains…
The price of Bitcoin shot up immediately after the email went out, hitting a new high, above $7,800, before retreating. The price has been steadily climbing and is up nearly 1,000 percent over the last year.
The rising price has attracted many new users, from places like Japan and South Korea and from big hedge funds, even as the authorities in places like China have cracked down on the currency.
All of the new people seeking access to Bitcoin have run up against a limit on the number of transactions that can flow through the system every 10 minutes, which was put in place during Bitcoin’s early years.
Because of the limit, the network can process only around five transactions a second. That has led to delays on the network and has pushed up the price of getting a Bitcoin transaction through.
Companies that help process Bitcoin payments have been pushing to lift the limit on Bitcoin transactions for several years, arguing that it will be necessary if Bitcoin wants to compete with Visa or PayPal.
The opposing camp has argued that quickly expanding the number of transactions flowing through the network would mean only large companies could track Bitcoin transactions, taking power away from individual users.
The proponents of keeping the so-called blocks of Bitcoin transactions small said Bitcoin should be viewed more as digital gold: a secure place to keep money, even if it can’t be moved around as quickly and cheaply.
Many of the programmers working on the basic Bitcoin software — the so-called core developers — said they would stop working on Bitcoin if the block size was increased.
They also complained that the companies pushing through the block size increase were doing so without properly consulting the community.
Leaders on both sides of the Bitcoin debate have complained about receiving death threats and hacking attacks, and some top developers have migrated toward other virtual currencies.
In August, some of the most outspoken proponents of expanding Bitcoin created their own version, known as Bitcoin Cash, which can handle more transactions than traditional Bitcoin.
The price of Bitcoin Cash has gone up since August, but it remains only a small fraction of the size of Bitcoin.
On Wednesday, the companies that had been pushing for big blocks said they were calling off their plans in order to restore some measure of peace to the community.
“Although we strongly believe in the need for a larger block size, there is something we believe is even more important: keeping the community together,” the email said.
The announcement said that the companies still believed that an increase in the size of Bitcoin blocks would be necessary, but that they were willing to wait until the community agreed on a way to deal with the issue.
The people opposed to quickly expanding the network say they still wanted to make it easier and cheaper to use Bitcoin. But they hope this will be made possible by new networks built on top of Bitcoin, keeping the Bitcoin network itself more secure and decentralized.
But this time, the company is pushing into luxury territory. The new phone will cost as much as the company’s entry-level MacBook Air laptop. “They’re doubling down on their strategy: They are going much more to the high end,” Ms. Ruth said.
Apple declined to comment before the product announcements scheduled for Tuesday. (On Saturday, Steven Troughton-Smith, a developer who combed through the iOS 11 software, found references indicating that the new high-end phone will be called the iPhone X.)
Investors are betting that Apple’s move up the price ladder will pay off with much higher profits, especially in mature markets like the United States and Western Europe, where many of the buyers will be people upgrading from older iPhones. The company’s stock has risen by nearly 50 percent over the past year as anticipation has built about the 2017 models.
How the iPhone Is Faring Against Android Around the Globe
Apple has been fighting an uphill battle with Google’s Android operating system in countries like Brazil and India. But it has shown strength in China, a crucial market for the company.
Apple’s strategy carries risks, however, especially in developing countries where smartphone sales are growing briskly but its market share is a blip compared with devices running Google’s Android software.
In Brazil, for example, Apple devices will account for just 8 percent of the 125 million active smartphone subscriptions this year, according to Forrester, a research firm.
Steep taxes, higher retail profit margins, and added costs from a botched attempt at building iPhones in Brazil have pushed the price of an iPhone 6s, a two-year-old model, to more than $1,000 at Casa Bahia, a store in the Copacabana neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. In late August, the retailer was selling Apple’s most basic smartphone, the iPhone SE, for more than $600, while a Samsung Galaxy J1 Mini, which runs Android, was just $136.
At another Rio store recently, Vanessa Perreira, 25, a university student, was browsing the 65 models on display, looking at the offerings from Samsung and LG but ignoring the six from Apple. She once owned an iPhone, she lamented, but could not afford to continue buying them. “Price is the most important factor for me,” she said.
Still, the iPhone is coveted by wealthier Brazilians, many of whom buy the phone while traveling abroad to avoid their country’s high costs. “There will always be users in Brazil that will be interested in buying it,” said Tina Lu, a senior analyst with Counterpoint Research.
China’s reception to the $1,000 iPhone will be even more crucial to Apple. The Greater China region, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, contributed $8 billion to Apple’s revenue last quarter, but sales have been sluggish.
Brian X. Chen, our lead consumer technology writer, gives answers to more than two dozen reader questions about Apple’s new devices.
Apple’s market share has declined slightly in China over the past year, according to Counterpoint. High-end phones from Chinese brands like Huawei and Oppo have gained ground, in part by undercutting Apple on price.
The new iPhone has the potential to reverse that trend. More than any other tech product, the iPhone has long denoted status in China. If a new iPhone looks the same as the previous one — and won’t be recognized by others as new — it often doesn’t sell well.
“If the phone’s appearance changes, I think people are going to be crazy about it, because we’ve seen the iPhone with a similar look for such a long time now,” said He Peihuan, a Shanghai-based financial analyst.
Apple has also faced pressure from the Chinese government. State-run media outlets have called attention to a feature that tracked a user’s most commonly visited locations and also criticized the company’s after-sales policies. And government employees and leaders at state-run companies try to avoid being seen using foreign technologies like the iPhone.
For all that, Zhang Xiang, a phone reseller and repairman in Shanghai, said that he still expected strong demand for the new iPhone. “I think when people can afford it and want a high-end phone with good features, they’ll still choose to buy an iPhone,” he said.
One important factor offsetting the next iPhone’s expected high price is the increasing prevalence of financing options for buyers around the globe. In the United States, most phone carriers allow customers to spread the cost of a new phone over two years, and the new phone would add less than $10 a month to the payments a customer would make on an iPhone 7 Plus.
“There’s not that much difference in the monthly fee you have to pay,” said Brian Blau, a technology analyst at Gartner, a research firm.
Similar installment purchase plans are emerging in China, Brazil and other countries, making Apple’s products more affordable there.
“I’ve seen some banks providing installment plans for the iPhone with very low, or even no interest, so ordinary people could get an iPhone that way,” Mr. Zhang said.
Neil Cybart, an independent Apple analyst who writes at the site Above Avalon, said that he would be looking to see what Apple says about lower-priced models on Tuesday. Analysts already expect the company to announce two phones that are upgrades of the existing iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and will be priced at similar levels to those phones’ current prices. But if the company also offers a model below $400, particularly in developing countries, that could help lure a new generation of users onto the iPhone platform, he said.
That would play into Satish Meena’s theory of iPhone adoption in developing countries.
Mr. Meena, a senior forecast analyst at Forrester who is based in New Delhi, said that in places like India and Brazil, where millions of new smartphone users are entering the market, the first phone that people buy is a cheap Android. The second tends to be a fancier Android. Finally, they upgrade to an iPhone.
“The iPhone is your dream phone,” he said.
An earlier version of a chart accompanying this article misstated the number of active smartphone subscribers in various countries. The figures for each country are for millions of subscribers, not thousands.