BEIJING, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook said he hopes to adapt all of Apple's developments to work for the Chinese market, which he describes as a "key market" for the tech giant.
Cook made the remark in an exclusive interview with Xinhua before ending his latest four-day China visit, which started on Tuesday.
His visit coincided with the fourth plenary session of the Central Committee of the Community Party of China (CPC) which closed on Thursday. Chinese vice premier Ma Kai, a member of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, met with the CEO of the world's most valuable company on Wednesday morning. They had discussed a series of topics including privacy and security. Cook described it as "very open", "fascinating" and "impressive", but he declined specifics.
The same day, Cook paid a "lightning" visit to a Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou City, central China's Henan Province. Some media sites interpreted his visit as encouragement for Apple's biggest agent to produce more iPhone 6 handsets for the eager China market.
Apple announced its latest models of iPhone on September 9. Initial 24-hour pre-orders surpassed four million, far beyond the company's expectation. China, however, had a delayed release while waiting for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to issue a network access license to the new iPhone on September 30. China Unicom, one of three leading telecom operators in the country, saw online pre-orders exceed 600,000 two hours after it opened the service. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus hit the China market on October 17.
Cook did not disclose the latest sales of the new phones but said he was "really happy with how things were going."
Apple's Q3 earnings report decreased in the greater China market, which was contributed to the delayed launch of iPhone 6 in China and insufficient inventory. Analysts expect a dramatic rebound of the market in Q4, driven by people's staggering demand for a "bigger modern smart phone", as Cook describes it.
Cook's ambition, however, does not rest on the iPhone. He has been advocating Apple Pay and Apple Watch long before they will reach the China market.
"We want to bring Apple Pay to China," he said, "I'm convinced there will be enough people that want to use it. It's going to be successful."
He said he wants to understand the necessary steps to bring Apple Pay to China before he summoning local networks, banks, and merchants to work together to make this happen. Apple's market share in China was 16%, after Samsung's 23%, and China's home brand Xiaomi, which was 21%, according to a survey by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech on Jan-May market statistics. High end iPhones, however, may imply customers are from the country's growing middle class, who are to most likely become potential customers of Apple Pay and Apple Watch.
"China is a really key market for us," said the CEO, "Everything we do, we are going to work it here. Apple Pay is on the top of the list."
Cook believes the prospect of Apple Watch is "enormous" because it is so rich with possibilities that even people from Apple who have been conceptualizing it for three years have not thought of all the possibilities.
"We are going to wonder how we ever lived without it," said Cook, "That's the real test of a great product: you wonder how you live without it. And I think that's going to happen to the Apple Watch."
He said he was not bothered by the rumor that Microsoft was preparing to launch a smartwatch in a few weeks. He welcomed competition and was confident Apple makes the best products that customers will buy.
He also encourage Wal-Mart and its alliance, who are reportedly developing CurrentC, another mobile payment platforms, to also do Apple Pay, and let the customers decide what they want to do.
As for future plans exploring the China market, Cook said Apple expected to increase its Apple Stores from its current 15 to 40 in two years.
He said Apple's social responsibilities in the market are also a big topic for him. A energetic promoter of the SEED Program, Cook met a group of Foxconn employees on Wednesday to learn how they have benefited from the Supplier Employee Education and Development program. Launched in 2007 by Apple, the program has 18 participating sites worldwide with over 280,000 employees taking free courses in accounting, English, web design, and flower arranging.
Zhang Fan, a woman Cook met at Foxconn, has been taking the free courses of English and quality control for nearly three years. She was able to tell Cook without an interpreter how she did her job as a quality controller. Cook said he was touched by her pride and care for her job.
"I came here for making a living, but end up with upgrading of my personal skills," told Zhang on a telephone interview, "it's not bad."
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