Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook has told China’s Xinhau News Agency that he expects China to pass the U.S. as its largest market. He said currently the nation is the company’s second biggest market. Cook made the comments on his current trip to China, which is the second one in ten months. He has also met with China Mobile’s chairman and China’s industry and information technology chief on this visit.
Currently Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has 11 stores in China. The last time Cook visited the country, it only had six stores. Apple’s sales in China doubled in 2010 and 2011 but slowed in 2012. Cook didn’t say when China will likely pass the U.S. as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s largest market, but he did say that the company will begin plotting a more aggressive strategy in China.
“We are continuing to invest in retail stores here and will open many more over the next several years,” Cook said. “We have some great sites selected, our manufacturing base is here and we have incredible partners here. So it’s a very, very important country to us.”
China Unicom, one of China’s largest carriers, does support the iPhone. When the newest version of the handset became available in China last month, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) sold over two million units in just three days. At this point though, sales of the iPhone in China are still less than those of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94), which utilize the competing Android operating ststem.
Meanwhile the controversy surrounding the Foxconn factory continues. Chinese authorities are currently investigating the Taiwanese Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) supplier for possible bribery charges. Foxconn has been the center of controversy in China since early last year when claims about poor working conditions at the factory first surfaced.