Ap­ple CEO vows to beef up in­vest­ment

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By MA SI in Shang­hai masi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ap­ple Inc CEO Tim Cook is on a trip to China this week, pledg­ing to boost in­vest­ment in Shang­hai and strengthen com­mu­ni­ca­tion with lo­cal mo­bile app de­vel­op­ers.

The move, amid the on­go­ing Sino-US trade fric­tions, un­der­lines the im­por­tance of China, the world’s largest mo­bile arena where Ap­ple is locked in com­pe­ti­tion with ri­vals such as Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co Ltd.

In a meet­ing with Shang­hai Party Sec­re­tary Li Qiang on Tues­day, Cook said the US tech heavy­weight will in­vest more in Shang­hai and ac­tively seek to ex­pand co­op­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Shang­hai me­dia.

Such com­ments came af­ter US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump asked Ap­ple to re­lo­cate part of its iPhone plants to its home turf, in or­der to avoid his pro­posed tar­iff on Chi­nese im­ports. How­ever, such a move could lead to an iPhone price rise of as much as 20 per­cent, ex­perts es­ti­mated.

Cur­rently, Ap­ple has very strong ties with China where most of its man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions are lo­cated. The na­tion also ac­counted for around 18 per­cent of its to­tal sales in the sec­ond quar­ter. More­over, lo­cal de­vel­op­ers are an es­sen­tial part of Ap­ple’s ecosys­tem.

It has also pro­posed plans to es­tab­lish a string of re­search and devel­op­ment cen­ters in China in two years, in­clud­ing the lat­est ini­tia­tive an­nounced in March to cre­ate a joint re­search fa­cil­ity with Ts­inghua Univer­sity to fo­cus on ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies, in­clud­ing ma­chine learn­ing and com­puter vi­sion.

But the US tech com­pany is also fac­ing a string of chal­lenges, with Huawei and other lo­cal smart­phone ven­dors work­ing hard to erode its dom­i­nance in the pre­mium seg­ment.

Cook, how­ever, re­mains op­ti­mistic, say­ing he has never been as hope­ful re­gard­ing the China mar­ket as he is now. He added in an in­ter­view with news por­tal Sina.com that the com­pany’s prow­ess in in­te­grat­ing soft­ware and hard­ware will give it an up­per hand.

Dur­ing his trip, which started on Mon­day, Cook vis­ited a num­ber of lo­cal mo­bile app de­vel­op­ers and users who are us­ing Ap­ple prod­ucts.

Such fre­quent com­mu­ni­ca­tion high­lights Ap­ple’s recog­ni­tion of China’s in­no­va­tive ca­pa­bil­i­ties and the im­por­tance of Chi­nese de­vel­op­ers to the tech giant, said Zhao Zim­ing, an an­a­lyst at Bei­jing­based con­sul­tancy Analysys.

Ap­ple said there were around 1.8 mil­lion iOS Chi­nese app de­vel­op­ers on its ecosys­tem last year.

On Wednesday, Ali­pay, China’s largest mo­bile pay­ment plat­form, made the rare move of warn­ing that its users mak­ing pay­ments via Ap­ple de­vices may face a risk of money loss due to pos­si­ble se­cu­rity prob­lems. Ap­ple has so far not re­sponded to re­quests for com­ment.

REUTERS

Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook vis­its an Ap­ple store in Shang­hai on Tues­day.

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