Apple to Cook up new recipe in hunt for bigger slice of China pie

17 Aug 2016

In yet another visit to China in recent months, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed plans for the tech giant to invest heavily in the world’s largest market.

The boost in activity in China from Apple comes after a continual decline in its relevance there, with Android devices far more popular than the iOS equivalent.

Apple’s dominance at the premium end of mobile devices  is something worthy of acclaim, but its struggles at attracting interest further down the disposable income ladder mean some of the world’s largest markets appear beyond Cook’s company.

Losing share

A few weeks ago, figures from India, the third-largest market in the world, showed Apple representing just 2.4pc of smartphone market share.

In China earlier this year, an annual drop of 16.3pc in smartphone sales saw Apple’s share drop to 15.3pc, with the likes of Huawei, Oppo and Vivo gaining ground with their lower-end models.

The iPhone SE was supposed to help halt this decline, representing a lower price point to the iPhone 7, despite enjoying a similar spec. The effect of those figures won’t be revealed in full for another six or nine months, and Cook’s not resting on his laurels in the meantime.

Major facility

With plans to build its first Asia-Pacific R&D centre “by the end of the year”, Reuters reports the facility will “unite Apple’s engineering operations teams” in China, and figure as a staging post for greater involvement with partners and universities.

Back in April, corporate raider Carl Icahn sold his Apple stock based on concerns about Apple’s relationship with China’s regulators, with various shutdowns of the company’s services eventually forcing his hand.

Add to that growing competition and difficult routes to legal resolution – the company is struggling to stop a handbag company calling its product an iPhone – and Apple’s woes appear to be mounting.

Under that premise, Cook’s plan to begin a new wave of investment in the country makes a whole lot of sense.

Main Tim Cook image via Hadrian/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic