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Tim Cook’s visit to China may help build bridges with consumers, developers, local companies

John Ribeiro | May 17, 2016
The Apple CEO is visiting China less than a week after his company invested in the country's largest ride-hailing company.

Cook has said that he sees great potential for Apple in the Chinese market. In a recent interview with Jim Cramer of CNBC's Mad Money program, Cook said that the middle class in China is expected to soar from 50 million people five years ago to almost 500 million in the next five years. “This is an unprecedented growth of the middle class,” said Cook, adding that he “could not be more optimistic about China.”

Local vendors, such as Huawei, Vivo and Oppo, are cutting into the premium segment that once Samsung and Apple considered their own, reported Canalys in April. Smartphone shipments in China grew by only 2 percent year-on-year to over 105 million units in the first quarter with Huawei, Vivo, Xiaomi, Oppo and Apple making up the top five. Apple’s iPhone shipments fell a whopping 15 percent year-on-year, while market leader Huawei had a 48 percent year-on-year increase in smartphones shipped in the country.

During his visit to China, besides building bridges to companies like Didi and mending fences with the government, Cook is likely to explore new opportunities for the company as well as size up the growing competition from local players like Huawei. Signing up developers may help him build the app and services ecosystem that could help Apple compete better in the market.

 

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