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Are Singaporeans obsessed with Apple products?

First things first, I am not an Apple fanboy. I use both Mac and Windows.

My secondary school class of two years had 36 students, and 17 of us owned at least one iOS device (iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad). In total, we have 9 iPhones (7 of them are the latest iPhone 4s), 8 iPod Touches, and 4 iPads. And a handful of us possess other Apple-branded devices such as the MacBook and iMac.

My teachers too are Apple-savvy. My physics, biology, and math teachers each owns an iPhone.

My school, Maris Stella High School, has even gone to the extent of making the MacBook a compulsory educational tool for students. Every Secondary 1 students from 2008 had to buy one. This was rolled out to new students in subsequent years. By next year, every of the 1,500 students in the school will be using the MacBook for lessons.

As mentioned in my previous article of 10 most useful Singapore iPhone apps , iOS device penetration rate in Singapore is the highest in the world at 9.64 per cent, according to Nelso, which took data from AdMob. In other words, 1 out of 10 Singaporeans own either an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.

In the United States, the penetration rate is slightly more than half at 5.91 per cent. Meanwhile, our technologically-savvy Asian counterparts Japan and South Korea have penetration rates of only 1.30 per cent and 1.43 per cent respectively. Even Hong Kong is nowhere near us at 5.26 per cent.

The report also noted that Singaporeans had 402,000 iPhones in April 2010 but the number is now estimated to be over 600,000 after the launch of the iPhone 4 in July, which took the local smartphone market here by storm.

And with the highly-anticipated white iPhone 4 and iPad 2 set to launch in March and April this year respectively, the number of iOS devices owned by Singaporeans is set to grow even higher.

You will most probably find at least one train commuter using the iPhone in each crowded MRT carriage. However, this is not the case in South Korea.

I was in Seoul a couple of weeks ago and took the subway to get my way around the city. Commuters using mobile phones to play games, send text messages or even watch videos are a common sight in Seoul. Nothing unusual about that. But unlike Singapore, I saw only three passengers using the iPhone on the train during my nine days there.

I passed by one Apple premium reseller at an iconic shopping mall in Seoul. It was deserted, and I could only see employees inside. On the hand, I was at Nex and [email protected] recently and the Apple stores there always seem packed with people.

When the three mobile phone service providers SingTel, Starhub and M1 released the launch date of iPhone 4, demand was so high that interested buyers had to book an appointment online with their mobile phone service provider to purchase the iPhone 4 on July 30.

One particular Apple enthusiast went to the extent of joining the queue some 18 hours before the midnight launch.

17-year-old polytechnic student Dominic Soh arrived at Hall F of Marina Bay Sands at 6 a.m., waiting for SingTel s iPhone 4 launch at midnight. I even heard that one of my schoolmates skipped school to queue for the iPhone 4.

The iPad launch in Singapore on July 23 was no exception too. Hundreds of eager fans braved long queues and discomfort to get their hands on the coveted Apple device. I remember that day was a working day so I believe many went to work late or took leave just to buy an iPad.

A day after the iPad launch, local iPhone/iPad blog iMerlion ran a story about a man getting his hands on an iPad after a 4-hour hunt around Orchard Road.

Determined to lay his hands on the 64GB WiFi + 3G iPad, sales executive Bobysen Francisco ended up queueing for four hours at five different outlets around Orchard Road yesterday before finally hitting the jackpot, said the blog, quoting The New Paper.

Neither the launch of Samsung s Galaxy Tab nor Microsoft s Windows 7 Phone received as much hype or attention as Apple s.

What do you think are Singaporeans obsessed with Apple products and if so, why?

And given that their products don t come cheap (iPhone 4 selling for $888 upwards and the iPad from $728), what does that say about Singaporeans affluence?

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