Tim Cook Has a Love Song for China

itunes_moviesTim Cook’s China-wooing spree is continuing after the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) chief executive said the country was on its way to becoming the iPhone maker’s biggest market. Cook told government news agency Xinhua that he expected China to overtake the United States as its biggest market soon, though he gave no timeline.

“China is currently our second largest market. I believe it will become our first. I believe strongly that it will,” Cook reportedly told Xinhua.

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In the quarter ending September, Apple reported China sales of $5.7 billion, which accounted for 16 percent of the company’s global total. The iPhone maker, though, was only the sixth-largest smartphone vendor in the country in the quarter with its 6.9 percent share. Samsung (SSNLF.PK), the largest, had a 16.7 percent share of the market and was followed by Lenovo at 14.8 percent. Cook said Apple intended to start “many more” outlets in China over the next several years. The company has a total of 11 stores in mainland China and Hong Kong.

The Apple chief executive also met Chinese regulators and officials at China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), the world’s largest wireless carrier by number of subscribers and the only one of the top three with whom the iPhone maker does not currently have a partnership. The two companies discussed “cooperation,” according to a statement from China Mobile.

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Cook also responded to questions about wages and other labor issues at manufacturing partner Foxconn, which has come under scrutiny from international rights organizations. “We care very deeply about every worker that touches an Apple product, whether they are making it, selling it, serving it, or marketing it,” Cook told Xinhua. “We hold ourselves to a very high standard there.”

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