Ap­ple mulls China R&D

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By MA SI in Bei­jing masi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ap­ple Inc will set up a re­search and de­vel­op­ment cen­ter in China by the end of this year — its first in­de­pen­dent­ly­op­er­ated one in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion — as part of its ef­forts to re­gain mar­ket share it is los­ing to lo­cal ri­vals.

Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook said on Tues­day that the US tech gi­ant would step up its in­vest­ments in China and be an ac­tive part in pro­mot­ing the coun­try’s smart man­u­fac­tur­ing and In­ter­net Plus strat­egy, which are de­signed to ad­vance the use of the in­ter­net in tra­di­tional in­dus­tries.

Cook re­vealed the com­pany’s plan dur­ing a meet­ing with Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli. Cook’s sec­ond visit to Bei­jing within three months high­lighted the im­por­tance of the Chi­nese mar­ket where the tech gi­ant is wrestling with de­clin­ing iPhone sales.

The com­pany did not dis­close the in­vest­ment size for the new R&D cen­ter.

In a sep­a­rate app devel­oper event on Tues­day, Cook said Ap­ple would add more Chi­naspe­cific fea­tures to its mo­bile OS, in a move to fur­ther dif­fer­en­ti­ate its prod­ucts.

The move comes as smart­phones in­creas­ingly look and work the same, and ser­vices and soft­ware be­come in­creas­ingly im­por­tant to help com­pa­nies dif­fer­en­ti­ate their prod­ucts and win brand loy­alty.

Ap­ple’s in­tel­li­gent per­sonal as­sis­tant Siri is learn­ing an­cient Chi­nese po­ems and when Chi­nese con­sumers speak some of their words, Siri will be able to rec­og­nize which po­ems they are from and iden­tify the poets.

Dur­ing his lat­est vis­its to China, Cook had ex­ten­sive meet­ings with lo­cal de­vel­op­ers, high­light­ing his em­pha­sis on of­fer­ing bet­ter ser­vices.

James Yan, re­search di­rec­tor at Coun­ter­point Tech­nol­ogy Mar­ket Re­search, said: “Smart­phone hard­ware is no longer Ap­ple’s edge, be­cause lo­cal ven­dors such as Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co Ltd are catch­ing up quickly, and even out­do­ing Ap­ple in hard­ware com­po­nents, such as hav­ing dual cam­eras on one smart­phone,” Yan said.

In May, Cook said his com­pany would speed up its ef­forts to let Chi­nese-de­vel­oped mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions go global, as lo­cal de­vel­op­ers raked in earn­ings ex­ceed­ing $7 bil­lion from the com­pany’s App Store.

Cook’s visit also came ahead of the com­pany’s new iPhone launch in the fall.

Jin Di, re­search man­ager at In­ter­na­tional Data Corp China, said dur­ing the visit Cook would prob­a­bly dis­cuss co­op­er­a­tion deals with re­tail part­ners.

“While lo­cal ven­dors all saw year-on-year growth in China in the sec­ond quar­ter, Ap­ple con­tin­ued to de­cline in its ship­ment vol­umes,” Jin said.

TIM COOK’S WEIBO

Tim Cook, CEO of Ap­ple Inc, talks with Chi­nese fash­ion de­signer Guo Pei on Mon­day in Bei­jing.

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