China’s Uber rival, Didi Chuxing, gets $1bn backing from Apple

13 May 2016

Having spent a considerable amount of money to break into the Chinese market, Apple has now revealed that it will be making a number of strategic investments in the country, the first being $1bn in Uber’s Chinese rival, Didi Chuxing.

If the name Didi Chuxing doesn’t ring any bells then it’s because it used to be called Didi Kuaidi until September last year when it decided to change its name as part of a major re-branding, and now Apple wants to contribute to the billions of dollars already invested in the ride-sharing company.

This, despite the fact that Apple continues its love-hate relationship with the Asian power as, while it may be its second-largest market for all of its consumer goods, it regularly falls under the scrutiny of the single-party state.

Some of its latest tribulations include the shutting down of its online book and film services due to issues over server hosting and, let’s not forget the fact that Apple now doesn’t even hold the exclusive trademark for the iPhone in the country.

Investment for ‘strategic reasons’

Now, in an interview with Reuters, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook confirmed its $1bn investment in Didi Chuxing, saying this will help Apple better understand the realities of the Chinese market, while also reinvigorating its own business there.

“We are making the investment for a number of strategic reasons, including a chance to learn more about certain segments of the China market,” Cook said.

“Of course, we believe it will deliver a strong return for our invested capital over time as well.”

In its own statement, Didi Chuxing said this was the company’s single-largest investment and that it currently has 87pc of the ride-sharing market in the country of more than 1bn people.

Discussing Apple’s own intentions for what it plans to do in the automotive industry, Cook said that while it’s focused on developing its own in-car entertainment system, Apple CarPlay, he talked optimistically about its intentions.

“That is what we do today in the car business, so we will have to see what the future holds,” he said.

Shanghai street image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic