Apple Follows Retailer Push Into China


from Flikr M.I.C Gadget

Liu Chuanzhi, the founder and chairman of Lenovo, says his company—China’s leading PC-maker, with 30% of the market—has been “lucky” that Apple hasn’t been focused on China.

Or in his own words: “We are lucky that Steve Jobs has such a bad temper and doesn’t care about China. If Apple were to spend the same effort on the Chinese consumer as we do, we would be in trouble.”

That’s all about to change, as Liu’s remarks to the Financial Times were made on the eve of Apple opening its second store in China. Apple’s gleaming new standalone retail outlet opens in Shanghai on Saturday just a stone’s throw from the city’s famed Oriental Pearl Tower in the Pudong business district. It joins Apple’s first China store, located in Beijing‘s Sanlitun district.[more]

Shanghaiist has posted a photo gallery of the new store, an architectural cousin of its Fifth Avenue flagship in New York, including a look at its Briefing Room for business customers.

“We view this store as a kind of launching pad,” Apple’s SVP of retail Ron Johnson commented at a press walk-through in Shanghai, where he discussed Apple’s plans to establish a total of 25 retail outlets across the country by the end of next year, including two more locations in Shanghai.

As the New York Times points out, by expanding its retail footprint in China, “Apple is following other global brands eager to market to the country’s increasingly affluent consumers.”

“While overall retail sales in the United States and Europe are weak, China’s economy is booming, and companies like Best Buy, the Gap, Nike, Starbucks, Zara and most of Europe’s big luxury brands are opening new stores in China.”

Lenovo’s Liu isn’t worried, telling the FT that LePhone, “Lenovo’s first signature product in its push into mobile devices,” was better positioned to compete with Apple’s iPhone locally because it’s customised for Chinese users.

He also said he admired Apple’s late entry into the China market, unlike more China-focused global PC companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Acer.

“Steve Jobs is a genius. He is the exception to my rule,” he said. “A manager needs to be the string on which he puts one pearl after another. But Jobs himself is a big pearl.”