Tim Cook is the first Apple CEO to visit China, but beyond symbolism it's not quite clear what he's up to over there. Apple has released few details on the goings-on of the trip. Apple spokespeople have mentioned "great meetings" and "greater investment and growth" in China, but we don't really get details of those meetings or that investment. From the little information secretive the Apple people have doled out plus some Internet sleuthing, we get an idea of what Cook's doing over there.
A Chinese iStore Takeover
Though the company has six stores in China, the company had projected it would have 25 by now. More stores would fall under that investment category and would make strategic sense. "The challenge now is to extend the successful retail model they have in the U.S. to China," explained David Wolf, CEO of Wolf Group Asia, a Beijing-based marketing strategy consulting firm to Bloomberg News. "Now they are really still in a test phase. It’s time to take it broader," he said. Plus Cook was spotted checking things out at the Beijing Xidan Joy City Apple Store at 11:00 a.m. on Monday morning.
Foxconn PR Clean Up
Since the press turned its attention to Foxconn, using Apple as the face of poor labor practices in China, Apple has tried its best to come out looking alright. Tim Cook has said the company cares about each of its workers there and Apple has started releasing reports on its suppliers. Even post the Mike Daisey debacle, Foxconn presents a particular problem for Apple's image. "Greater investment and growth" in China could mean greater investment in the controversial manufacturing plants, like, for higher wages or better facilities. Or, it could even mean Apple's considering building its own plants in China, suggests Woo.