Apple last week announced its plans to set up two new R&D centres in China, its latest effort to boost its standing in the world’s second-largest economy. The company said it will invest more than $US500 million in research in the country.
The commitment to China could help Apple curry favour with local officials. Either way, as this chart from Statista shows, any boost would be a big help for the iPhone maker. Though China remains by far the second-biggest market for Apple’s flagship product after huge gains a few years back, its sales have cooled significantly over over the past year. Analysts at UBS expect it to be the one major region where iPhone sales keep falling in 2017.
In lieu of the iPhone, Chinese consumers have flocked to increasingly competitive (and typically more affordable) devices from local brands like Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo.
Beyond those more traditional opponents, though, Apple’s success in China may also be affected by President Trump back home. As everyone waits to see how Trump follows through on his staunch, “America First” trade rhetoric, it’s no wonder that Apple CEO Tim Cook effectively defended globalization in a speech in China last week. He has a lot on the line.
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