If you could get past news of Steve Jobs taking a medical leave of absence, Apple's earnings call yesterday was not too shabby. With retail sales records in the last quarter, Apple was led by the four China-based stores (two in Beijing and two in Shanghai), which had the best sales figures of any stores worldwide, and the most visitors to boot.
Tim Cook, who took over for Jobs, said that the greater China region -- China, Hong Kong and Taiwan -- brought in US$2.6 billion in the quarter, which was four times as much as the sales for the same period in the previous year.
Chinese consumers' well-known taste for luxury goods does indeed include all things Apple, as the desire to own the very best is the mark of many of China's newly rich. One devoted Apple user we spoke to in China says that the iPad is doing especially well, and it's "a must for all kinds of awards and prizes, lucky draws, internet activities, promotions, you name it."
As great as Apple's sales figures are, China's love for the brand is even greater if you factor in unauthorized sales in the country. Many Apple products sold inside China originate from outside the nation's borders.
Apple fared well in the rest of Asia too, with sales in Japan up 83 percent year-over-year. Korea's sales were up as well, driven by strong sales of the iPhone and iPad.
With such strong results in the Asia-Pacific region, Cook says the company will be devoting more resources to the area to take advantage of the high demand.
Correction: A previous version of this post said Jobs was stepping down as CEO, which technically is not the case. Thanks to Charlie in the comments.
Apple Stores in China contribute to Apple's record quarterly sales
Rick Martin|January 19, 2011 2:00 PM