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However, the company did slip to sixth place in China’s smartphone market in the third quarter of last year as local rivals with cheaper devices started making inroads. There has been a lot of talk about whether Apple needed to launch a cheaper smartphone targeted at these high-growth and cost-conscious markets in order to regain momentum. Cook refused to divulge his company’s plans for a new product, per usual, but stressed on the fact that iPhone growth in the region had been in triple digits.
In addition, analysts believe that a partnership with China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), the world’s largest wireless carrier by number of subscribers, was imperative for Apple this year. Earlier this month, Cook met China Mobile chairman Xi Guohua in Beijing and the two reportedly discussed “cooperation,” so it’s clear that China is high on Apple’s priority list.
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