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Apple eyes further China expansion as CEO visits Beijing

(Xinhua)

08:16, March 27, 2012

BEIJING, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Apple Inc. said it was eyeing greater investment and growth in China on Monday as its chief executive Tim Cook visited Beijing.

The U.S. electronics giant confirmed that Cook had meetings with Chinese officials when the chief executive said he is looking forward to even greater investment and growth in China by Apple.

Cook also visited an Apple store at Joy City Mall in the busy Xidan shopping area in downtown Beijing.

Cook had a short stay at the store on Monday morning when he posed for pictures with customers, one staff recalled.

Cook's first China visit as Apple's CEO triggered speculation that Apple might change its market strategy towards China, Apple's biggest market outside his home market. Apple's founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, who died last October, never visited China.

Many Apple fans and experts said Apple might launch sales of its products on the Chinese mainland at earlier dates in the future.

Apple usually starts selling its iconic iPhone and iPads in China months after debuting them in the United States and other major markets. The practices have triggered complaints from Apple fans and also led to opportunities for scalpers on the black market.

"In terms of either influence or importance, the Chinese market should be among the first group on Apple's market strategy," said Chen Jinqiao, deputy chief engineer of the China Academy of Telecommunication Research under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Liu Guanwu, an analyst at Analysys International, also believed that Apple might change its China market strategy. Cook has reiterated the importance of Chinese market on many occasions, Liu said.

There is also speculation that Cook might meet with executives of China Unicom and China Telecom during his visit to talk about the introduction of the new generation iPhone.

China Telecom, the country's third-largest mobile carrier, joined its bigger rival China Unicom in selling the iPhone early the month, bringing Apple tens of millions of potential customers.

But not all is going well for Apple in China, as it is currently locked in a legal dispute with Chinese electronics firm Proview Shenzhen over the rights to use the "iPad" trademark in the country.

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