By opening retail outlets in China, Apple is following other global brands eager to market to the country’s increasingly affluent consumers. While overall retail sales in the United States and Europe are weak, China’s economy is booming, and companies like Best Buy, the Gap, Nike, Starbucks, Zara and most of Europe’s big luxury brands are opening new stores in China.
Analysts who follow Apple say that China offers a huge opportunity for the a company because Apple’s market share in the country is tiny — less than 5 percent in most major categories.
“Apple plans a major invasion of China over the next 18 months to two years,” said Charles Wolf, an analyst who follows Apple for Needham & Co. and credits its retail stores with significantly bolstering Apple’s brand. “To date, Apple has not been a force in China. But it will be.”