Apple's plans for China bearing fruit in next store

Updated: 2012-10-18 23:02

By Tuo Yannan (China Daily)

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The biggest Apple store in Asia will open on Saturday in Beijing and a new Shenzhen Apple store will soon follow, a senior Apple Inc official said on Thursday.

The new store, the third one in Beijing and eighth one in China, will stand in Beijing's Wangfujing shopping street, a well-known tourist attraction.

The opening signifies that the US-based technology company is placing a greater emphasis on the Chinese market, said Wang Jiping, senior analyst with the US-based IT research company International Data Corp.

John Browett, Apple senior vice-president of retail, has traveled to China for the opening of the new store. Speaking to Chinese media, he told about his first trip to China, which came in 1986. Then a student, he had stood in the same place where the new store was built.

"Who could have believed what's happened in China in 25 years, let alone what's happened with Apple," Browett said.

He said he believes the new outlet is "the best store Apple has built in Asia so far".

The three-level outlet will employ more than 300 people, more than double the number at any of the company's other stores in China.

Apple opened its first outlet in China in 2008, choosing Beijing's Sanlitun area as its location. Since then, the company has opened six more stores in the country, including two in Hong Kong. It has more than 390 in the world.

In 2011, Apple reported having $108 billion in sales revenue. About 12 percent of that came from China. The United States, for its part, was the source of about $38 billion, according to the Chinese news portal

"After Tim Cook became Apple CEO, he began to invest more in the Chinese market than (former CEO) Steve Jobs had invested," Wang said.

Wang said Apple held the largest share of the Chinese market for tablet PCs in the second quarter of the year. Its 69 percent share made it the top seller of the devices in the Chinese mainland.

At the same time, the company had the third-largest share of the Chinese smartphone market in the second quarter. It held 10.4 percent of that market in the period, down from the 15 percent recorded for the second quarter of 2011.

"For smartphones, the number of annual shipments will reach 290 million in five years," Wang said. "The coming iPhone 5 will certainly boost Apple's sales in China. For that reason, opening this new store is a good idea, even though it won't have the same effect as the first few Apple stores that were in China."

China surpassed the US this year to become the largest market for smartphones. This year is expected to see shipments of 185 million smartphones in China, according to IDC. Browett said Apple plans to open more stores in China soon. The next one is to be in Shenzhen, Guangdong province in South China. Previous reports have said Chengdu in Sichuan province and Dalian in Liaoning province will also have new Apple stores.