Tim Cook: Sales In China Were $13B Last Year

Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage today at the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference in San Francisco to talk about Apple’s unbelievable first quarter, as well as the company’s outlook going forward. It’s been hard to avoid the headlines: Apple is red hot right now, as MG recently pointed out that Apple’s $13.1 billion profits in Q1 was equal to the company’s revenues in Q4 2010. One year and one quarter later, and Apple is growing like it’s on steroids. Throw in the fact that Apple now has $97.6 billion in cash and equivalents, and the overall picture is fairly jaw-dropping.

Or, perhaps what’s even more anxiety-producing, at least for Apple’s competitors, is that Tim sat in conversation today and almost sounded shocked by his own words — specifically over how much opportunity he sees for Apple in developing markets. The mobile device market is expected to grow to 1 billion units by 2015, with 25 percent of that share coming from China and Brazil alone. Cook stressed that those two markets in particular have been (and will continue to be) critical for Apple moving forward.

Cook said that a halo effect was created by the iPod for Mac sales in developed markets, but that it wasn’t nearly as effective in developing markets like Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, and so on, largely because international users were already getting music from their phone. But, with the launch of the iPhone, Apple was “introduced to hundreds of millions of people who had never met Apple before.”

If one takes China as an example, Cook said, Mac sales grew over 100 percent year-over-year. While objectively that may not seem like much, the entire market itself only grew 10 percent year-over-year. Not only that, but a few years China was “only” producing sales in the hundreds of millions for Apple, whereas last year, sales in China had grown to $13 billion. Cook said that this, among other things, is just further evidence of the explosive potential of Asian markets, specifically China.

“If i look back at 2007,” Cook reiterated, for greater China, Asia, India, Latin America, the Middle East [the developing world], revenues then sat at $1.4 billion, whereas Apple’s share of that developing market ballooned to $22 billion in revenues last year.

“All that being said, we’re only on the surface.”

Forbes has posted a full transcript of Cook’s interview at The Goldman Conference. Check it out here.