China may soon surpass the US as Apple's most important market

Apple still gets the largest chunk of its sales from the US, but China may soon be No. 1.

According to BI Intelligence, based on Apple’s earnings figures from Monday, the Greater China region — including mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan — accounted for 29% of total sales last quarter, surpassing Europe as Apple’s second-largest market. In dollar figures, that’s $US16.8 billion last quarter alone, an 80% jump from last year. Europe had $US12.2 billion in sales.

Apple’s been steadily growing its sales in China over the past two years. In 2013, it signed a big partnership deal with China Mobile, the world’s largest phone carrier, and is expected to expand its total retails stores to 40 in the region by 2016.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said last quarter’s sales growth was largely due to the growing size of the Chinese middle class, which is where the bulk of its sales came from. China’s New Year Holiday in February also played a big role in it. There’s also huge upside remaining as 70% of iPhone buyers in China were first-time buyers. (Note that Apple stopped reporting Retail as a separate segment at the beginning of its 2015 fiscal year, which was the October-December quarter of 2014.)

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