Chinese developers have earned more selling apps on Apple's iOS platform than devs from any other country, Apple CEO Tim Cook said on Sunday (via Bloomberg). His comments were made in a keynote speech given at China's annual state-run World Internet Conference, which aims to develop the digital economy, while operating under the rubric of respecting the right of sovereign nations to regulate and control public internet access.

Cook said developers on its iOS platform number 1.8 million in China, collectively earning a total of $16.9 billion, which is roughly a quarter of total global App Store earnings. Apple said earlier this year that the global developer community has earned over $70 billion since the App Store launched in 2008.

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Tim Cook delivers a speech at the Fourth World Internet Conference (Photo: IC)

"The theme of this conference – developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits – is a vision we at Apple share," Cook said. "We are proud to have worked alongside many of our partners in China to help build a community that will join a common future in cyberspace."

China's cyber regulation has stepped up in the last year, with new rules coming into force that require companies to store data locally and make data available for surveillance measures. Apple was the first foreign tech firm to announce amendments to its data storage arrangements in China, when the cybersecurity laws came into effect in June.

"Much has been said of the potential downsides of AI, but I don't worry about machines thinking like humans. I worry about people thinking like machines," he said. "We all have to work to infuse technology with humanity, with our values."

Technology of the future should have openness, creativity and safeguards to protect users while providing privacy and decency, he added.

Cook's words appeared carefully chosen so as not to upset his Chinese hosts, who routinely curtail access to online services seen as a potential threat to the country's internal cohesion. Facebook and Instagram have been blocked by China's Cyberspace Administration since 2009 and 2014, respectively. Encrypted messaging service Telegram was also blocked inside China after it became popular with the country's human rights lawyers, while several VPN apps – which are commonly used to evade censorship and access services abroad – were recently pulled from China's App Store in compliance with stricter state rules.

The Wuzhen-based conference was opened earlier on Sunday with comments from Chinese president Xi Junping, read by the head of the government's publicity department, in which Xi advocated for "cyber sovereignty", the idea that states should be permitted to manage and contain their own internet without external interference.

"Developments online are raising many new challenges to sovereignty and security, and China is willing to work with the international community to respect cyberspace sovereignty and promote partnerships," said Xi in the note. "The development of China's cyberspace is entering a fast lane... China's doors will only become more and more open."

China remains the world's biggest smartphone market, one which historically Apple has struggled to penetrate. The company shipped an estimated 11 million iPhones in China last quarter, up 40 percent from the year-ago quarter, despite six consecutive quarters of declining iPhone sales in the region.

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Top Rated Comments

MH01 Avatar
44 months ago
Says it all - Tim choosing his words carefully not not upset his hosts . Guys a massive hypocrite - at least the other CEOs acknowledge they are there just for profit, be it east or west, Tim fakesness when it comes to China....or west.... or both is a huge dispointment .

China is a huge market , with huge profits to be made. That is the reality , and shows how our companies kiss ass to do business .... even if they pretend to be all fluffy and nice.... realty , it's all about the $$$$
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kabeyun Avatar
44 months ago
Says it all - Tim choosing his words carefully not not upset his hosts . Guys a massive hypocrite - at least the other CEOs acknowledge they are there just for profit, be it east or west, Tim fakesness when it comes to China....or west.... or both is a huge dispointment .

China is a huge market , with huge profits to be made. That is the reality , and shows how our companies kiss ass to do business .... even if they pretend to be all fluffy and nice.... realty , it's all about the $$$$
To be CEO of a multinational corporation, let alone the world’s most valuable one, is also to be a politician, not just a business expert. You develop business, i.e. profit, around the world as effectively as possible. Yes, exactly; he’s choosing his words carefully. Wise politicians speak delicately when they’re trying to get their way, especially in potentially hostile territory. Wise politicians don’t stamp their feet, pout about unfairness, and take a dump in the lap of countries where they’re trying to foster business, especially countries as state-controlled at China. I’m sure it looks different from the comfort of a slacktivist’s living room couch, but that’s why he’s him and we’re us.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
IPPlanMan Avatar
44 months ago
Says it all - Tim choosing his words carefully not not upset his hosts . Guys a massive hypocrite - at least the other CEOs acknowledge they are there just for profit, be it east or west, Tim fakesness when it comes to China....or west.... or both is a huge dispointment .

China is a huge market , with huge profits to be made. That is the reality , and shows how our companies kiss ass to do business .... even if they pretend to be all fluffy and nice.... realty , it's all about the $$$$
Exactly.

Tim willingly suspends his principles for Chinese money and production efficiency.

If Tim was really against Chinese censorship, he’d suspend business and ties with the regime and manufacture devices in other countries, including the United States.

I’m disappointed to see this hypocritical behavior by him, but not surprised.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kaibelf Avatar
44 months ago
Says it all - Tim choosing his words carefully not not upset his hosts . Guys a massive hypocrite - at least the other CEOs acknowledge they are there just for profit, be it east or west, Tim fakesness when it comes to China....or west.... or both is a huge dispointment .

China is a huge market , with huge profits to be made. That is the reality , and shows how our companies kiss ass to do business .... even if they pretend to be all fluffy and nice.... realty , it's all about the $$$$
Go ahead and be a foreign social justice warrior running a huge company and insult a major trading partner and manufacturing base. I’m sure the employees you’d have to lay off as a result would be comforted by it.

Or if you feel so strongly about it, go become CEO of Apple and show everyone how it’s done.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
alex2792 Avatar
44 months ago
Tim Cook also threatens to boycott a state over a tranny bathroom bill while happily selling iPhones in Saudi Arabia. I think it’s safe to say that he’s a hypocrite of the highest order.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
25ghosts Avatar
44 months ago
Tim Cook should focus more on the deteriorating quality of his software rather than portraying the global player.

Either Tim doesn't use Apple's software or he has no taste !

Either way, he is turning Apple in to a Microsoft-like company. Where quality suffers.

What Steve left him, could have been sold and ran by a 5 year old and it would still take a decade to turn in to rubble. 2024 - Apple will not be anything like it is today unless they find someone with taste and mass-empathy to run and lead the company !
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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