Last summer, Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi told the Financial Times that Apple was losing out in China, and that—luckily for him—founder and CEO Steve Jobs “doesn’t care about China.” Apple’s most recent figures paint a different picture six months on, however. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Revenue in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in the first quarter quadrupled to $2.6 billion from a year earlier, [COO, Tim] Cook said during a Jan. 18 earnings call. Those regions will contribute “well over half” and possibly as much as 100 percent of Apple’s total earnings growth in the next two years, Morgan Stanley estimates.
“We put enormous energy into China, and the results of that have been absolutely staggering,” said Cook, who will handle the company’s day-to-day operations while Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs takes medical leave ….
The four Apple stores in China generate, on average, the highest traffic and highest revenue of any company stores in the world, Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said on the call.
As well as these four locations, Apple launched an online store and a simplified-Chinese version of the App Store for iPhone and iPad last October. The San Francisco Chronicle article mentions that the 3G iPad has now been approved by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, barely ahead of the expected announcement of a second-generation device.
Not everything in China has gone Apple’s way. A spate of suicides occurred at “iPod City”, the enormous Foxconn plant which manufactures many of Apple’s (and other companies’) products. More recently, a coalition of Chinese environmental groups criticised Apple for the lack of transparency surrounding its supply chain, saying that this prevents independent verification of the company’s own audits (PDF).