Apple Inc may have seen its iPhone sales sink in China, but the California-based company is not scaling back its push in one of the most important markets. If anything, it is looking to expand its footprint from relying on iPhone sales to other areas, as evidenced by CEO Tim Cook's recent high-profile trip to China.
Apple CEO Tim Cook at the China Development Forum on Saturday (Photo: VCG)
During the closely watched trip, Cook toured app developers that use augmented reality (AR) technology, the Palace Museum and an Apple store in central Beijing, highlighting Apple's focus on expanding its app store businesses and innovation in China.
"Cook visits China multiple times each year to maintain relationships with Chinese partners, but this year he paid much attention to innovative app developers," Liu Dingding, an independent IT analyst based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday. "That reflects Apple's focus on developing its app store business in China after iPhone sales dropped significantly."
Cook was in Beijing to attend the China Development Forum (CDF), a high-level conference. But before the event, he visited app developers and historic sites to promote apps.
"Wonderful way to marry the old and the new to help people around the world learn about Chinese culture," Cook wrote on his Sina Weibo account on Friday, referring to the museum's apps that offer users virtual reality tours of the historic museum.
Also on Friday, Cook visited the office of Hongen Education and Technology Co, which develops AR-powered apps for education. "Inspiring to see how iHuman is using the App Store and AR to help children across China learn in new and creative ways," he wrote in a separate post on Sina Weibo.
Liu said that with iPhone sales suffering from stiff competition from Chinese domestic brands and overall declines in smartphone sales in China, Apple is pushing its digital products and other services in the Chinese market. "IPhone sales might be sliding, but Apple still has huge potential in China," he said.
During the quarter ended in December, Apple reported a revenue decline of 26 percent in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.