Apple plans to set up two more research centers and boost investment in China, a pivotal market in which the iPhone has been rapidly elbowed aside by local rivals. The announcement comes as Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook undertakes his latest trip to a country that ranks as Apple’s single biggest overseas market. Apple said it plans to build new research facilities in Shanghai and Suzhou, on top of centers already slated for Beijing and the southern city of Shenzhen. It also pledged to spend at least 3.5 billion yuan (US$507mil) on research institutions. All four centers will open later this year.
China had for years driven Apple’s spectacular growth, even as smartphone demand elsewhere faltered. But local vendors like Huawei Technologies Co., Oppo and Vivo are now eroding its market share with increasingly high-end devices. The U.S. company is counting on the release of the 10th anniversary iPhone later this year to supercharge growth.