What is Apple strategy in China?

The updates announced at the Steve Jobs Theatre on Monday 25th of March got commentators with plenty to argue about. Once again!
Beyond new services such as Apple News+, Apple Arcade or the software updates, the keynote was a powerful signal sent to its international audiences.  

Apple is a company that has to nurture “a” global market in mind. That gets translated into one product offering for the entire world. The App Store has the same interface in Bangalore and Milano, iOS is minimally customizable, etc. It happened that some services were released in the US first (such as the iTunes Store back in 2003), but the end goal was always to get those available worldwide over time.

With the recent announcement of Apple News+, Apple Arcade, Apple Card, AppleTV+, we are observing a clear strategy around the service offerings. How sustainable will it be? 
There is little to no mention of the announcement on Apple Chinese Website. And the reason is simple:  out of the four services announced only one could have a possible existence in China (Apple Arcade).
Apple Card might eventually be available, but Chinese observers know how credits cards aren’t widely used in the country. And in countries where credit cards are marginal, Apple will have a hard time convincing the general public to use Apple Card.

What I take from the incredible show that we witnessed at the keynote is that Apple is developing a third pillar to Apple product offering: first, hardware and software. Now, hardware + software + services. Is Amazon Prime the trendsetter?
But the real challenge that I anticipate for Apple is rolling out its services outside of the US borders. How will they get broad acceptance in a country where players like Xiaomi and Huawei have deep integrations with a large number of local services. And the flexibility to roll out updates at a much faster pace.

Can we imagine Apple developing features that would be tailored for each market? The example of how China’s importance to sales got Apple to add a Dual Sim to its flagship product is an indicator of what might happen moving forward.

(Picture Credit: The Verge)

Vincent Geoffray is a co-founder of the product development studio pinn.hk based in Hong Kong. Bridging good design and honest production, we create great products with like-minded partners through a hands-on approach.

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