What Chinese slowdown? Apple’s sales double in China on iPhone growth

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Image: AP Photo/Andy Wong
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Apple certainly hasn’t noticed a dent in its China business. The company reported 99% year-over-year revenue growth in the fourth quarter in China. CEO Tim Cook told investors today (Oct. 27) that he anticipates the Greater China region will become “Apple’s top market in the world,” though he didn’t say when. Already Greater China, which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong, accounts for 24% of Apple’s total revenue.

“Frankly, if I were to shut off my web and shut off the TV and just look at how many customers are coming in our stores regardless of whether they’re buying, how many people are coming online, and in addition looking at our sales trends,” Cook said, ”I wouldn’t know there was any economic issue at all in China.” China’s long-anticipated economic slowdown hit the economy this year, and recently pulled quarterly GDP growth below 7% for the first time since 2009.

But, according to Cook, Apple’s retail stores in Greater China ”are among the busiest in the world.” The company just opened its 25th outpost in the region, with plans for a total of 40 by mid 2016.

Sales in Greater China were driven largely by the iPhone, with revenue for the device climbing 87% year-over-year in the region and 120% in the mainland—where the iPhone 6 was the best-selling smartphone last quarter—compared with 22% growth globally. Half of the consumers in China who bought an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus were buying their first Apple smartphone, Cook said. The company also saw a 127% rise in App Store revenue, driven by more than 1 million developers in China building for iOS.

Cook, not surprisingly, is optimistic about the continued growth of China’s middle class. Apple, he said, will continue “investing for the decades ahead” in China.