Tim Cook: Apple has China in mind when designing new products

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Tim Cook and Apple might be moving into San Francisco.
Tim Cook and Apple might be moving into San Francisco.
Photo: Apple

In a Chinese-language interview, Tim Cook has revealed how Apple considers Chinese consumer tastes into account when designing any new products.

Given that Cook has previously talked about how China will soon overtake the U.S. as Apple’s biggest market this is unlikely to surprise many readers, but it’s another reminder of just how important the Chinese market is for Apple.

In terms of specific nods to the Chinese market Cook singled out the gold iPhone, due to that color’s popularity with many Asian customers. It appears that Apple judged correctly here, too, since the gold iPhone (introduced with the iPhone 5s in 2013) has proven very popular in China; frequently selling out faster than any other color option.

That same rationale likely explains the gold Apple Watch Edition — which sold out within its first hour in China.

Greater China accounted for 29 percent of Apple’s revenue in the first three months of 2015. During this period it also overtook the U.S. as the number one country for volume of iOS app downloads, although it is only no. 3 (after U.S. and Japan) when it comes to revenue.

Cook has heavily pushed Apple’s expansion into China, where Apple is close to becoming the number one smartphone company (second only to Xiaomi). To this end, Cook has created a Weibo account to communicate with Chinese Apple fans, committed to opening many new Apple Stores, and launched initiatives such as a 5-year project to manage 1 million acres of forests across China.

In Cook’s Chinese-language interview, he also commented on the Apple Watch. In particular, he said it has had far more developer interest than the earlier iPhones and iPads — with 3,500 apps currently being worked on, compared to just 500 for the 2008 iPhone and 1,000 for the 2010 iPad.

Cook additionally commented on the importance of education in China — noting that Apple is helping organize more than 180 trial programs intended to teach kids “everything from how to compose music on the GarageBand app, to helping hearing-impaired children operate phones.” This program is hoped to expand by around 50 percent by the end of 2015.

The interview was conducted during Cook’s visit to China last month, although it has only come to light now.

Source: Bloomberg