Apple opened its largest store in China Friday, a move clearly welcomed by droves of fans who were cheered by staff as they stepped into the new gleaming Shanghai outlet.
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Excited fans lined up for hours. And at least two, like 27-year-old Cui Lizhen, even flew in from neighboring cities just to be at the opening.
“There are products that I like and there are friends here. This is a chance for everyone to gather here and interact. We feel it’s quite rare to have a chance like this.”
But it isn’t just Apple’s fans who are excited. China Market Research analyst Leo Wang says the company needs to open even more stores in China.
“Apple’s been too American-focused in the past. We think China should be the biggest market for Apple in the future because the consumer demand is so high. We believe Apple should open at least 100 outlets in the next two to three years.”
Apple’s electronic devices like the iPhone and iPad are extremely popular in China, especially among youth and the middle class.
But a long lead time before Apple’s newest gadgets arrive in China has led to a thriving gray market.
It’s also spawned fakes, like this store seen in July in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming.
Wang estimates unofficial sales of Apple products are nearly double those of official ones.
The Shanghai store is Apple’s fifth store in mainland China – and its biggest so far. It opens a Hong Kong store on Saturday.
Bottom line: Apple opens its Shanghai store, the largest in China, as it turns its attention to the mainland.