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Apple plans to open up to 25 retails stores in China in 2 years., according to multiple reports coming out of the company’s board meeting, from which communication devices are banned. Fortune, which gathered notes from unnamed shareholders willing to sneak in some text messages, published the rumor at about 1:43 ET this afternoon.
To date, Apple has just one retail store in China, which opened in Beijing in July of 2008 just ahead of the Olympic games. At the time, senior vice president of retail Ron Johnson said "this is the first of many stores we will open in China," but no more have been opened since. MacRumors notes that COO Tim Cook stated last week at a conference that Apple plans to open a store in Shanghai.
Many American companies have been “burned” trying to do business in China. Google is contemplating withdrawing its search portal from China over privacy violations and censorship rules. Rupert Murdoch tried long and hard to break into the market, to no avail, and, according to some reports, gave up all his secrets to Chinese business men with nothing to show for it. Little regard for American-style contracts has led many to regard the country as fostering a culture of piracy (others take a more nuanced view).
However the difficulties are described, Apple thinks it finally has the market figured out. One reason may be that its mobile devices--the iPhone, iPod and forthcoming iPad--are are really portals to the app store. That may help protect the company from the China’s less-restrictive approach to IP. China can replicate the iPhone (and it has) but copying the app store is a trickier project.
image credit: kickerclub.com
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