China is home to China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier, and has long been a focus of Apple’s expansion plans. Apple’s iPhone has stiff competition in China, particularly among local Android smartphone makers that sell phones at more affordable prices, but it’s a key smartphone market for every vendor, and Apple CEO Tim Cook knows it.
IDC said that 40 percent of global smartphone shipments during the first quarter of this year were shipped in China alone. The same report suggested Apple saw double digit growth in China during that quarter, and Cook recently confirmed that Apple is going to put a greater focus on a retail presence there.
According to Reuters, which cites an interview with Cook on Sina.com, Apple plans to open 25 new Apple Store locations in China over the next two years. That’s in addition to the 15 Apple Store locations that already exist, and in an effort to boost the revenue it generates in China already. Reuters explained that 15 percent of Apple’s revenues are already generated in China, but increasing that won’t be a guaranteed walk in the park.
Canalys said recently that Xiaomi led the Chinese smartphone market during the second quarter of this year with a 14 percent share, and is trailed by Samsung, Lenovo, Yulong and Huawei, leaving Apple out of the top five vendors. Xiaomi is a particularly dangerous competitor, which has been accused of ripping off of Apple’s products by Cupertino’s lead designer Jony Ive.
“We’re investing like crazy in the market,” Cook said, according to Reuters. “When I look at China, I see an enormous market where there are more people graduating into the middle class than any nation on Earth in history.”
That middle class is key for Apple, since it’s a growing bulk of folks who can afford its products over more affordable smartphones. Cook declined to name specific locations for the new Apple Store locations.