In a major about-face, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), after initially leaving China off its Asia launch list for the iPad 2 (previous post), has decided that maybe China is worth a second look after all. In a new announcement detailing its plans for Asia and non-European markets, Apple has suddenly added China to the launch list, saying the iPad 2 will be available there starting May 6 — just a week after it goes on sale in the usual list of major markets including Japan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. (official announcement) This marks a major breakthrough for China, which, despite its growing consumer power, has until now remained a second-class market for major product launches. Chipmaker Micron Technology made a similar realization of China’s growing clout as a major gadget hub, announcing earlier this month it would triple the size of its China plant as the market accounts for more than half of its sales. (previous post) Interestingly, Apple said it will only launch its wi-fi iPad 2 in China for now, probably as it looks for a Chinese telco that will sign a revenue-sharing agreement rather than just purchase the iPads outright. If that’s the case, look for another major announcement from Apple and either China Unicom (HKEx: 762; NYSE: CHU) or China Telecom (HKEx: 728; NYSE: CHT) in the months ahead.
Bottom line: Apple’s decision to add China to its global launch list reflects the growing clout of China consumers, and Apple’s belief it can earn major returns there.
苹果<AAPL.O>起初没有把中国内地列入iPad 2在亚洲的首批发售市场之内，但现在却发现，也许中国内地还是值得考虑一下的。在苹果新近宣布的亚洲和欧洲以外地区发售声明里，突然将中国内地列入了名单中–5月6日起将开始在中国内地发售iPad2，仅比其在其常规重要市场–日本、韩国、新加坡和香港发售日期晚一周。对於中国内地市场来说，这是一个重大突破，因为尽管中国大陆购买力日益增强，但在苹果重大产品发布中仍然属於“二线市场”。芯片制造商Micron Technology也认识到了中国将来作为电子元器件中心的地位，本月初便宣布将把其在中国的工厂规模增加两倍，目前其在中国的销量也占到其全部销量的半数以上。有趣的是，苹果说目前只会在中国内地推出Wi-Fi版本iPad2，也许苹果是在寻找一家可与其签署收入分成协议，而不是仅仅买断iPad2经销权的中国电信运营商。如果是这样，那麽过几个月我们可能会看到苹果与中国联通<0762.HK><CHU.N>或是中国电信<0728.HK> <CHA.N>发表重要声明。
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