Apple’s definitely not ignoring its second most lucrative market. Chinese search engines, social networks and video destinations are all getting some love today with new integrations into the latest version of Apple’s Mac OS.
There will be an easier way to input Mandarin text, a new Chinese dictionary plus an integration for the Baidu search engine in the Safari browser. On top of that there will be easy sharing into Sina Weibo, a popular social network in China that’s like a mix of Facebook and Twitter, and the two main video destinations Tudou and Youku. Tencent’s QQ platform also gets a little bit of love too.
Why is this important? Well, the Chinese consumer web is like a parallel and totally closed version of the web in the rest of the world. They’ve got vibrant and powerful local substitutes for every popular web service that the West has.
And China is a huge market that Apple just can’t ignore. Apple’s iPhone 4 launch there in the first quarter of this year brought the company’s phone sales there up by fivefold from a year ago. Revenue in China reached a record $7.9 billion last quarter, which is up threefold year-over-year. That brings Apple’s revenues in the country to $12.4 billion for the first half of the fiscal year.
That’s nearly what Apple made in all of the last fiscal year when it made $13.3 billion in China. “It is mind-boggling that we can do this well,” said Apple chief executive Tim Cook on the last earnings call.
Apple’s got to step up localization in China as it faces a lot of tough competition from alternative Android platforms pushed by Baidu and Lei Jun’s Xiaomi.