What's Tim Cook Doing in China?

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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. 

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iPhone 5?! 

"People familiar with the matter have suggested that he is here to discuss Apple's sixth-generation iPhone with the China Unicom and China Telecom, the company's two carrier partners in the country," reports never-to-be-believed rumor blog AppleInsider. Cook could be there to meet with China's carriers to discuss expansion. Apple has only a 7.5 percent market share in China, notes ZDNet's Zach Whittacker. Chinese wireless carrier China Mobile doesn't support the iPhone, even though 15 million subscribers use the iDevice on the network. 

Not Dealing with Trademark Issues

Apple has gotten itself into a legal spat with Proview over the iPad trademark. The iMaker has sued the iImposter for the transfer of trademarks. The iImposter has called for an injunction against any imports or exports of the iPad. Not only does this fight have little to do with "investment" or "growth," the Proview people have said they do not plan on seeing Cook during his Chinese visit. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.