Chinese Apple-mania even surprises the tech giant

Chief executive proves he has mass appeal

Apple’s well-honed rumour mill continues to tease and tempt future buyers with talk of next-generation gadgets. Photograph: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Apple’s well-honed rumour mill continues to tease and tempt future buyers with talk of next-generation gadgets. Photograph: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 01:25

Apple’s third-quarter numbers were – as expected – mouthwatering. Revenues of $37 billion (a 6 per cent year-on-year increase) and a net profit of $7.7 billion (up 12 per cent) suggests that, despite the numerous blogs and forums heralding a slump in its fortunes, the global love affair with the brand continues apace.

Its biggest growth continues to be in the Chinese market, where blue-chip western brands are proven draws for the burgeoning middle classes.

iPhone sales in China were up about 48 per cent and Mac computer sales rose 39 per cent, according to the firm’s chief financial officer. Tim Cook, its chief executive, told analysts on a conference call that the firm’s Chinese performance “was honestly surprising”.

The onset of Apple-mania in China has drawn the ire of authorities there. The state media has singled it out for attack on the grounds of security, for example. These included claims last week on the Chinese state broadcaster that the location-tracking function of its iPhones poses a “ national security threat”.

Such attacks no doubt offer some succour to Apple’s Chinese rival Xiaomi, which is pushing strongly for market share.

Meanwhile Apple’s well-honed rumour mill continues to tease and tempt future buyers with talk of the next-generation Mac software for late October, a new, even sleeker, iPhone6 in the autumn as well, and, of course, the rumoured iWatch and Apple TV. The much-hyped health tech market that analysts promise will be “the next big thing” should prove to be a cash cow for Apple as well, given the higher-income – and in turn health-conscious – profile of its customer base.

There are major challenges ahead for the brand, both in terms of keeping its product line fresh and facing off new challengers, but the figures suggest Cook’s tenure has been positive so far.

If there is one statistic that stands to underline the popularity and interest in the brand, it is this: 20 million people streamed Cook’s keynote speech at the firm’s development conference earlier this year. Very few firms can claim that level of public interest in a speech by their chief executive at a company conference.

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