Apple CEO Tim Cook has expanded his social media presence by creating an account on Chinese microblogging service Weibo, where he has already accumulated over 325,000 followers as of writing. Cook's first post on Weibo reflects on his current visit to Beijing to announce new environmental initiatives in China, including a new multi-year forestland program in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund.
"Hello China! Happy to be back in Beijing, announcing innovative new environmental programs," wrote Cook, followed by a Chinese translation of the same message. Last month, Apple announced a partnership with SunPower Corporation to build two 20-megawatt solar power plants that will provide more than enough energy to power all of Apple's corporate offices and retail stores in China.
Coinciding with Cook's visit to China this week, market research firm IDC has released new data for the smartphone market that reveals Apple was the largest smartphone vendor in China during the first quarter of 2015. Apple shipped 14.5 million smartphones in China during the quarter for 14.7% market share, while Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi trailed in second with 13.5 million shipments and 13.7% market share.
Huawei, Samsung and Lenovo rounded off the top five smartphone vendors in China during the first quarter, although IDC notes that each vendor's rankings often change quickly due to the volatility of consumer brand preference in China. Samsung and Lenovo, for example, both led the market at least once last year, but ranked fourth and fifth in the first quarter respectively.
"Apple was the top smartphone vendor in China in the first quarter of 2015, with consumers still having a strong appetite for the larger screens on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Xiaomi slipped to the second position as it faced strong competition from other vendors in the low to mid-range segment of the market, while Huawei maintained third position as it saw a good uptake in the mid-range segment. Samsung and Lenovo both led the market at least once last year, but rankings have since changed quickly, highlighting the volatility of consumers' brand preference in China."
With an estimated 1.4 billion people and growing, China is the world's most populous country and over three times larger than the United States, which has an estimated population of 320 million people. China is an increasingly important market for Apple, given that the country had higher iPhone sales than the United States for the first time ever during the most recent quarter.