Photo: Asa Mathat, All Things Digital
Lenovo founder and chairman Liu Chuanzhi taunts Apple CEO Steve Jobs in an interview with the FT: “We are lucky that Steve Jobs has such a bad temper and doesn’t care about China. If Apple were to spend the same effort on the Chinese consumer as we do, we would be in trouble.”It’s true, Apple doesn’t put nearly as much effort into China as Lenovo, which is a Chinese company. And it doesn’t put as much effort into China as it puts into the U.S., or even other countries.
But it’s silly to say that Apple just “doesn’t care” about China as it begins to expand its presence there. (Especially recently, as Apple has been spending a lot of extra time dealing with China, because of the suicide troubles its manufacturing partner Foxconn is experiencing.)
- “China has been interesting. If you look at greater China which we define as mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, the iPhone units were up year-over-year over 9 times. We added another 800 points of distribution in China. The revenue, we have never released this number before but I will do this in this particular case, through the first half of the fiscal year that we just completed for the six month period our revenue from greater China was almost $1.3 billion and this is up over 200% year-over-year. So we are well pleased with how the company is positioned to take advantage of the growth in greater China.”
- “We are very excited about China not only for retail but for Apple.” “With regard to retail stores we will open two stores in Shanghai this summer and with targets of having about 25 stores open in China by the end of calendar 2011.”
Sure, that $1.3 billion over a six-month period is obviously tiny compared to Apple’s overall business and the Chinese electronics market.
And it’s likely that Apple will never be as big as Lenovo in China, at least measured by market share and gross revenue, simply because of Apple’s focus on the high end of the markets it operates in.
But Apple is just getting started there. It’s going to be a few more years before we can tell if Apple will always remain tiny in China or if it can take the high end of the mobile and gadget market there — and a huge chunk of the profits — the way it has in the U.S.
So as many of Apple’s competitors have recently learned, dissing Steve Jobs could look really stupid in a few years.