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The Chinese market has figured prominently in Apple’s quarterly results for some time now. When the company last posted earnings in April, it reported a record $7.9 billion from Greater China – a 3x increase year over year. As CEO Tim Cook said at the time, “It is mind-boggling that we can do this well.” Indeed, first-half revenue for Greater China topped out at $12.4 billion this year – just $1.1 billion short of what it was for all of 2011.
Given that, it’s little wonder so much attention is being paid to China in the software updates announced at this year’s WWDC. Apple has added a bevy of new features for Chinese consumers to both iOS and OS X, and it went out of its way to note them during the keynote address that kicked off WWDC today.
To iOS 6, Apple has added Baidu as a new built-in search option in Safari. Also onboard: Support for video sharing sites Youku and Tudou and micro-blogging service Sina Weibo. Improved text input has doubled the number of Chinese characters supported in handwriting recognition. Finally, Siri has been updated to understand Mandarin and Cantonese.
To OS X Mountain Lion, Apple has added the above features, with the exception of Siri, along with a few others. There’s a new version of Lookup that supports Simplified Chinese and a new version of Mail that supports popular Chinese email services QQ Mail, 126 and 163.
“The Mac has been growing fantastically well in China,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, remarked during his portion of this morning’s demo. “Get your apps ready for China.”
Wise advice and another big nod to the Chinese market, which Apple clearly views as a massive opportunity.