Apple opens app design and development accelerator in China

Apple has opened a design and development accelerator in Shanghai — its first for China — to help local developers create better apps as the iPhone maker looks to scale its services business in one of its key overseas markets.

At the accelerator, Apple has begun to hold regular lectures, seminars and networking sessions for developers, the company said this week. It is similar to an accelerator it opened in Bangalore about two years ago.

In India, where Apple has about half a million app developers, the accelerator program has proven crucially useful, more than three dozen developers who have enrolled for the program have told TechCrunch over the years. Participation in the accelerator is free of cost.

Apple said more than 2.5 million developers from greater China, which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong, actively build apps for its platform. These developers have earned more than $29 billion through App Store sales. More than 15% of Apple’s revenue comes from greater China, according to official figures.

“Developers here in China are leading the world with some of the most popular apps on the App Store, and we are proud to be providing this additional support for them. From education to health to entertainment, the innovation we see here is incredible and we can’t wait to see what these talented developers will come up with next,” said Enwei Xie, Apple’s head of developer relations, Greater China in a statement.

The launch of the design and development accelerator comes at a time when growth of iPhone sales has slowed down in the nation (and elsewhere), though some devices such as the iPad continue to see strong momentum. The slower growth for Apple’s marquee product is in part a direct result of the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China.

“We believe the economic environment in China has been further impacted by rising trade tensions with the United States. As the climate of mounting uncertainty weighed on financial markets, the effects appeared to reach consumers as well, with traffic to our retail stores and our channel partners in China declining as the quarter progressed,” Tim Cook wrote to shareholders ahead of Q1 2019 earnings report.

Some analysts expect Apple will report a surge in its services revenue in the third quarter, thanks to a turnaround in China.

The design and development accelerator in the country’s largest city would help developers create more quality apps, which would then improve user experience and incentivize more spendings on Apple’s ecosystem of services and products.

At its developer accelerator in India — the company’s maiden developer centre of its kind anywhere — many employees who work for major companies such as Flipkart and Paytm have participated in the program and used the learnings from the sessions to improve their companies’ apps. Many Apple employees and other experts are readily available at these sessions to coach developers.

The Cupertino-giant has also opened other design and coding programs in many other markets over the years. In March, Apple said it was expanding app development curriculum at partner schools in Singapore and opening a second developer academy in Indonesia. It also maintains a similar program in Italy. Earlier this year, Apple also accepted to an entrepreneur camp 11 app development companies founded by women.