Here in 2014, news of a new Apple Store in the U.S. may be nothing special, but when you hear that Cupertino plans to open 25 retail stores in China in the next two years you sit up and pay attention!
According to Tim Cook, who was interviewed during his current China visit, Apple is set to greatly increase its retail presence in the country — from 15 stores currently, to 40 stores in 2016.
Cook also discussed China’s potential as the biggest Apple market in the world, saying that, “In the future China will become Apple’s biggest revenue contributor. It’s just a matter of time.”
This built on similar comments Apple’s CEO made during the recent earnings call, on which he acknowledged that, “We’re investing like crazy in the [Chinese] market.”
With an ascendant middle class there’s no doubt that Apple products can be absolutely massive in China. The iPhone 6 and recently arrived in the country following regulatory delays, sparking crazy preorder numbers and massive queues.
At the start of this year, Apple finally agreed a deal with China’s biggest mobile provider, China Mobile — bringing the iPhone to approximately 760 million new subscribers.
But Apple’s expansion into China isn’t going to come without challenges. The Chinese media has previously accused Apple of using both iCloud and the “Find My iPhone” function to spy on its citizens, while Apple was forced to move iCloud in the country over to state-run servers in order to operate in the country.
One of Cook’s reasons for visiting China is to speak with Chinese officials regarding a reported “man-in-the-middle” attack on iCloud users in the country, supposedly carried out by authorities.
Clearly none of this is enough to slow down Apple’s aggressive Chinese expansion, however.