Tim Cook is actively engaging in efforts to bolster iPhone sales in China through a charm offensive strategy.

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Tim Cook is embarking on a prominent journey to China, coinciding with Apple’s inauguration of a massive new store in Shanghai — the second largest in the world. This initiative forms part of the company’s strategy to reverse the decline in iPhone sales in its crucial international market.

The new store, costing $11.6 million and situated in Shanghai’s central Jing’an district, stands as China’s largest and only trails Apple’s flagship store on New York’s Fifth Avenue, according to Chinese state media.

“Nonghao Shanghai!” greeted Apple CEO Cook in a Weibo post on Wednesday, extending a “hello” in Shanghainese. “I’m always so happy to be back in this remarkable city,” he added.

Cook shared moments of enjoying a traditional breakfast and capturing selfies with local actor Zheng Kai along the famous Bund waterfront.

In Shanghai, a pivotal financial center in mainland China, Apple boasts eight stores, the highest concentration in any city nationwide. Presently, there are 47 Apple stores spread across 24 cities in mainland China.

This expansion comes amidst Apple’s efforts to fend off rivals and rejuvenate sales in a challenging market, plagued by economic slowdowns, geopolitical tensions, and burgeoning nationalist sentiments.

While Apple clinched the top position in China’s smartphone market in 2023 with a record 17.3% market share, recent reports show a 24% dip in iPhone sales during the initial six weeks of 2024. Cook’s visit underscores China’s significance as Apple’s largest overseas market and a crucial part of its manufacturing supply chain.

“China remains a critical market for Apple, particularly in the premium segment above $800, where it holds a dominant position,” remarked Ivan Lam, a senior analyst from Counterpoint.

In an effort to bolster its offline presence, Apple is leveraging flagship stores to promote high-end smartphones amid competition from domestic players like Huawei.

During his visit, Cook emphasized the importance of China’s supply chain to Apple, hosting a session with key suppliers and meeting with Wang Chuanfu, founder and chairman of BYD, the world’s largest electric vehicle maker.

Despite rising calls for consumers to support domestic brands, Apple still commands a loyal fan base in China, evident from the long queues outside the new store and the enthusiasm expressed by customers like Dolores and Wei.

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