With Apple set to launch the iPhone on China Mobile this Friday, CEO Tim Cook gave a rare interview to The Wall Street Journal this week, in which he expressed his optimism for the launch. Even before the world’s biggest carrier starts selling iPhones, Cook claims Apple still boasts a respectable market share in China, despite reports that it’s trailing far behind both local manufacturers and arch-rival Samsung.
Even before the iPhone’s arrival on China Mobile, Cook says Apple sold more smartphones in the region over the holiday season than during any other fiscal quarter in the company’s history. The success, he says, comes from the decision to launch the new iPhone 5s and 5c at the same time in China as in the U.S. Cook also praised China Mobile as a company with “enormous skill and enormous size and enormous scale and enormous talent,” noting that the iPhone will be sold in 3,000 more stores starting this weekend thanks to the new deal.
Responding to claims that Apple is struggling in China, Cook argued that the company’s focus has always been on “making the best products in the world” rather than simply selling the most. Cook also says Apple actually leads the market in one category, claiming that 57 percent of all mobile browsing in China happens on iOS devices—though it’s unclear where that figure comes from.
With the iPhone finally landing on China Mobile’s TD-LTE network, Apple is expected to make significant gains in the rapidly growing market. Whether the company can actually catch up to the Samsung in China is still up for debate, but for Tim Cook that may not be a priority.