In an otherwise gonzo quarter for Apple, there were two notable soft spots. One was declining iPad sales, which was not a surprise.
The other, however, was a bit more unexpected: Sales in China were essentially flat.
Yesterday, the company said that revenue from “Greater China,” a category that includes Taiwan and mainland China, grew only 1% from the same quarter a year ago. Considering that China is Apple’s third biggest market, and the one where there’s arguably the most opportunity, any sign of a slowdown is cause for concern.
In a conference call with analysts yesterday, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said he remained confident that the company was on the right track in China.
“When I look at China, I see an enormous market where there are more people graduating into the middle class than any nation on earth in history and just an incredible market where people bought the latest technology and products that we were providing,” Cook said. “And so we’re investing like crazy in the market.”
Earlier this year, Apple announced a breakthrough partnership with China Mobile, the country’s largest carrier, that many thought would put Apple’s sales on steroids. The partnership put Apple’s iPhones on China Mobile’s 4G network, which the company is in the process of building out. Cook, in the call, described 4G rollout in China generally as being in “early stages.”
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