Apple and China: A one-stop solution

Locally produced, locally consumed: Apple announces plans for a Beijing store.

Published October 23, 2007 5:52PM (EDT)

Much is being made of Apple's great third-quarter numbers -- 10 million iPods sold, a record 2.2 million computers, 1.2 million iPhones. But Felix Salmon looks at the global market and is unimpressed. By his calculations, if you subtract U.S. sales, Apple's share of the global PC market is a pathetic 1.7 percent.

Maybe Apple's new Beijing store, scheduled to open in 2008 according to Apple's Monday earnings call, will change all that.

Is China ready to buy Apple products as well as make them? Consider these statistics.

Since How the World Works last checked, in January, the total number of China's Internet users has risen from 137 million to 172 million. That's 4 million new people logging on every month in 2007. In related news, as of June, the number of Chinese cellphone users topped 600 million.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a market. Right now, as Treasury Security Hank Paulson told the George Bush U.S.-China relations conference on Tuesday, China is the world's fourth-largest market for U.S. exports, growing at a rate five times as fast as U.S. exports to the rest of the world.

If Steve Jobs can snag just a piece of that action, Apple's got a lot of room to grow. But an Apple store in Beijing poses a nice logic puzzle. If an Apple product is made in China and consumed in China, what difference does it make to the U.S. trade deficit?

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Apple China Globalization How The World Works Iphone Smart Phones