Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc, tries a bike at the headquarters of bike-sharing startup ofo Inc in Beijing on Tuesday. (Photo/Tim Cook's sina weibo)
Apple Inc is making a big push to attract mobile application developers in China, as it attempts to create new momentum in the key market.
CEO Tim Cook on Tuesday visited the headquarters of bike-sharing service provider ofo Inc in Beijing, accompanied by ofo's CEO Dai Wei.
“Thanks for welcoming me today, ofo team! I wish you great energy behind your mission to make commuting greener, more efficient and fun!” Cook wrote on Chinese micro-blogging website Sina Weibo.
On the same day, he paid another visit to Beijing-based startup Keep, the developer of the app with the same name that offers workout tutorials.
Ofo and Keep are both apps available on Apple's iOS App Store.
Cook's visit came shortly after Apple announced on Friday that the company will build two more research and development centers in Shanghai and Suzhou, Jiangsu province.
It plans to invest 3.5 billion yuan (8 million) in the R&D centers, including the already planned Beijing and Shenzhen centers.
Apple claims that it has created about 4.8 million jobs in China, including 1.8 million iOS app developer positions, along with other iOS-related jobs.
Zhao Ziming, an analyst at Beijing-based consultancy Analysys, said Cook's visit indicated Apple's recognition of China's research capabilities and the importance of Chinese developers to the tech giant.
“As the world's biggest smartphone market, China has surged ahead of the world in terms of the abundance of apps and offering better user experiences,” Zhao said.
The analyst added that Apple will focus on facilitating the localization of App Store services in China and spend more resources to help the local developers to go global.
“That could also help stop the sales slide of iPhones and boost innovation in the booming App Store sectors.”
According to mobile analytics company App Annie, China gained the top spot for iOS App Store sales in 2016 and the country's iOS revenue hit more than billion in the fourth quarter of last year.
Zhao said Cook's visit to ofo was also a sign of Apple's interests in the emerging bike-sharing sector. “Seeing the potential of ofo, Apple may make some investment or cooperate with ofo in the future.”
Cook's visit comes amid a fierce battle for China's bike-sharing startups. The contest has frequently drawn comparisons to the early contest in the ride-hailing sector won by Didi Chuxing, which received billion in investments from Apple last year.
Earlier this month, ofo announced that it raised 0 million in its latest round of funding, increasing its valuation to more than billion.
The sector has a number of competitors, but two giants haves taken the lead－ofo and Beijing Mobike Technology Co Ltd. Mobike announced on Tuesday that it had brought its stationless bike-sharing services to Singapore.