He didn't fly to Beijing just to pose with shoppers at an Apple Store
Thanks to a quick-thinking customer who spotted him, snapped a couple photos and posted them on Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site, we learned Monday that Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook was in Beijing, at least for a few hours.
Leaving aside the iconography of an Apple CEO setting foot in the world's largest market for iOS devices, something Steve Jobs apparently never bothered to do, what do we suppose Cook was doing there?
According to Apple's local public relations representative, Cook had "great meetings with Chinese officials."
We can imagine any number of issues that might benefit from high-level face-to-face meetings between Cook -- whom the Chinese press have nicknamed "Captain Cook" -- and Chinese officials. Among them:
Cook doesn't come to China with an empty hand. According to the company's annual report, it has budgeted an unprecedented investment of $7.1 billion for plant and equipment for 2012, much of it presumably destined for Apple's Asian supply chain. That should give him some leverage in those meetings with Chinese officials.
Dan Butterfield, editor emeritus of iPhonAsia.com, points to China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology as a key sticking point.
"One dilemma for China's MIIT," he writes, "has been their desire to level out the playing field for the three major wireless carriers in China -- China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. The (by far) dominant carrier is China Mobile, and the MIIT purposefully hamstrung China Mobile with their 'indigenously innovated' TD-SCDMA 3G ... which IMHO is akin to the Spruce Goose. The smaller carriers -- China Unicom and China Telecom -- have benefited via having "world standard" 3G networks.
"The question of course is will TD-LTE [the standard the next iPhone is rumored to support] unshackle China Mobile from their TD-SCDMA bondage? It will be interesting to see which comes first, MIIT issuance of the necessary TD-LTE network license or the launch of the LTE compatible iPhone 5."
Unit sales increase 9 fold from last year. Total revenue from greater China: $1.3 billion
Analysts scratching their heads about how they could have so badly underestimated Apple's (AAPL) iPhones sales -- and as a result, its revenue and earnings -- in the quarter that ended March 27 need look no further than the Chinese market for iPhones.
The 8.752 million iPhones Apple sold in Q2 2010 beat Wall Street's estimates by MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 21, 2010 7:04 AM ET
After a slow start -- and a flood of gray market devices -- official sales gather momentum
iPhonAsia's Dan Butterfield, citing Chinese press accounts, reported early Tuesday that sales Apple's (AAPL) iPhone in China have passed the 300,000 mark.
It took China Unicom (CHU), Apple's official Chinese carrier, 40 days to sell its first 100,000 iPhones and less than 20 to reach 300,000.
"The Unicom iPhone Express has steadily picked up speed and MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 29, 2009 5:49 AM ET
Apple airs its first Chinese-language ads as reports of retailer intimidation emerge
Supplementing print advertisements like the one at right, the first Apple-produced iPhone ads appeared on Chinese TV over the weekend.
They come on the heels of the device's somewhat sluggish start last month in the world's largest mobile phone market (more than 720 million subscribers).
Apple's (AAPL) local carrier, China Unicom (CHU), reported signing up only 5,000 new subscribers in the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 22, 2009 3:18 PM ET
iPhoneAsia's Dan Butterfield takes readers on a tour of China's electronics jungle
"There's no room for the meek," writes Dan Butterfield in a dispatch from Beijing's Zhongguancun-region electronics malls.
"Picture four or five Manhattan-sized Macy's department stores filled to the rafters with electronics outlets and sundry other goods. Untold thousands of shoppers fill these stores each day. From the moment you walk in the door (if you look like money or are MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 17, 2009 8:31 AM ET
|The Deep Web you don't know about|
|Pizza chain Sbarro files for bankruptcy|
|Colorado gets $2 million from marijuana taxes|
|Invest $1 million, try for a U.S. green card|
|Shodan: The scariest search engine on the Internet|