And that’s why he’s back in Beijing cosying up to China Mobile
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has flown to China for the second time in a year in a bid to forge new alliances and allay fears it could be losing ground to Nokia in what could soon be the world’s biggest phone market.
A month ago Apple saw $35 billion off its value as it was revealed how Nokia had agreed a deal with China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless operator with 700 million subscribers.
China Mobile is the country’s only major operator without an Apple partnership. But yesterday [10th January 2013] Cook met with Xi Guohua, the operator’s chairman at his headquarters in Beijing, sparking rumours that a formal deal to sell the iPhone through its network was on the cards.
The iPhone 5 was released in China in December, almost three months after its US introduction and, after his meeting with China Mobile, the Apple cEO admitted he would “love” to introduce new products to the region. However, the Californian giant has already dismissed rumours that it was considering launching a cheaper, “iPhone mini” – a device that might well have appealed to China Mobile subscribers.
Meanwhile Cook revealed Apple intended to open more stores in China where it currently has eleven, adding that he believed the nation had the ability to become the world’s largest market for smartphones, overtaking even the US.
In Q3 Apple notched up $5.7 billion of sales in China, compared to home revenues of about $14.4 billion for the period.
Meanwhile Nokia’s flagship Lumia 920 handset for the Chinese market is expected to go on sale in the next few weeks and retailing at around the $740 mark. If it steals a march on any alliance that Apple might strike with China Mobile for its its iPhone 5, it will be even more good news for the struggling Finnish manufacturer whose share price closed more than 18 per cent up last night after revealing encouraging sales of its Lumia range, running Microsoft’s WP8, in Q4.