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Apple's compromises to enter China paid off, as the country overtakes US in App Store downloads

By Nathaniel Mott , written on April 15, 2015

From The News Desk

Apple's entrance into China's smartphone market was fraught with problems -- but a new report from App Annie offers more proof that it was totally worth it.

The report shows that China has overtaken the United States in terms of App Store downloads, and has also helped the App Store maintain its lead over the Play Store, at least so far as revenues earned via app downloads are concerned.

App Annie explains in its report:

In Q1 2015, iOS downloads in China overtook those in the United States. China’s surge may have been partially caused by the recent launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. While both the United States and China are two of Apple’s strongest markets, demand for smartphones with larger screens seems to be particularly high​i​n Asia. In Q4 2014, shipments of smartphones with screen sizes between 5 and 7 inches constituted roughly 60% of total smartphone shipments in China as compared to roughly 40% Worldwide and in the United States. Thanks to this, the iPhone’s share of the smartphone installed base crossed 7% in 2014.
Which isn't to say China has made the US market obsolete. App Annie says in its report that most of the App Store's revenues are still drawn from the US; the rise in app downloads in China has been primarily driven by free applications.

Still, it's clear that China will become an increasingly important market for Apple, both because it can boost the company's hardware sales and because it can help the App Store continue to grow in spite of the "app burnout" fallacy.

That's some cold comfort, given everything Apple had to do to break into the Chinese smartphone market. It had to compromise the security of all iPhone owners; lie about the information its iPhones collect; and enter a country whose government almost immediately attacked its iCloud service to gather data.

And it's not like Apple's customers in China can trust the company, either. As I wrote when the Chinese government finally allowed the iPhone 6 to be released:

So, to recap: a government known for wanting to control foreign companies as much as possible while also gathering information on its citizens is allowing a company thought to have been compromised by the NSA to sell its products in the country. All this, after being assured that there is no way for any government to get at that data, even though at least some of it will be stored on servers operated by a state-owned telecom company, without even so much as a hint of protest.
But hey, it looks like it was worth it! Sales of both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have been great. Apps are being downloaded from the App Store more than ever before. The biggest threat to Apple's dominance has been conquered.

Just try not to think about everything it took for that statement to be true.