Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook arrived in Beijing earlier today where he got the full sitting-in-front-of-a-fancy-painting treatment as he met with Miao Wei, minister of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
According to the government department, Tim Cook and Miao Wei discussed the tech industry in China, the global mobile market, and Apple’s progress. Cook also met with the US ambassador to the country, Gary Locke, but no other details of the CEO’s itinerary have been revealed.
You might recognize MIIT as the enforcer that’s considering regulating China’s app market, and stands in the way of every Apple release so that the devices are usually delayed by as much as three or four months from their arrival in the US and other major markets. As such, it makes sense for a high profile firm like Apple have the boss make a very official visit.
Dropping in on China Mobile?
Many will speculate whether Cook will visit China Mobile, the world’s biggest telco, which cannot carry the iPhone or iPad since its 3G network uses the unusual, homegrown TD-SCDMA 3G protocol, which no Apple devices support. It’s conceivable that will change once 4G arrives in China, which might happen later this year.
Cook was last in China in March when he toured a Foxconn plant that contains a major Apple assembly line. Since that time a mere 10 months ago, Apple has pushed its retail efforts in the country, going from six to eleven stores. The gadget-maker most recently opened new Apple Stores in Chengdu and Shenzhen, far from the usual focus on consumers in Shanghai and Beijing.
Apple has quite a few worries in China, however. While Apple devices are still doing well in the country and remain a kind of status symbol for some, Android is dominating the smartphone landscape in the country thanks to its lower price-points, and those massive ‘phablets’ like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 are stealing away wealthier customers from iOS. Oh, and app piracy.