Could China unseat the US as the world's biggest market for Apple products? CEO Tim Cook suspects the answer is an enthusiastic "yes."
"China is currently our second largest market. I believe it will become our first. I believe strongly that it will," said Cook to the Xinhua News Agency on Thursday, in an interview conducted during the Apple leader's business visit to China.
Cook said that Apple would likely open more than its 25 planned retail stores in China, wrote ITWorld.com.
Eleven Apple stores currently exist in both Hong Kong and on the mainland, and six of these have opened in the past year.
CNBC noted that if Apple fails to dominate China in the mobile industry, however, it would be a "huge win" for Google's Android system.
Apple sales doubled in China in 2010 and 2011 but fell off slightly in 2013, wrote the BBC, while iPhone sales continue to trail those of Samsung's Android devices in China.
On Thursdsay, Cook reiterated to Xinhua that China is a "very important country to us," noting that Apple's manufacturing base — in addition to the large secondary market — is located there.
Apple has in the past aroused controversy over its Chinese factories, where a number of workers have reported abuse and workers rights violations.
In September, a riot at one of Apple's supplier factories caused the facility to suspend production, after a brawl that involved 2,000 employees injured 40.
Cook visited one of Foxconn's iPhone production factories in March and has met with workers there, reported Xinhua.
The technology giant is reported to have begun testing of the new iPhone6 and another incarnation of Apple's mobile operating system, according to keen-eyed application developers.