China isn’t just where Apple (s aapl) manufactures products. It’s now the country that delivers the most revenue for the company after the U.S. Over the last year, Apple and its executives have emphasized China and its surrounding areas as an important part of its sales strategy. But Tuesday during Apple’s fiscal fourth-quarter 2011 earnings call, CEO Tim Cook shed more light on just how important China has become.
Calling the progress in China “amazing,” Cook said that if you count the greater China region as a whole (which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan) it now accounts for 12 percent of Apple’s full-year revenue for 2011. That’s up from just 2 percent in fiscal year 2009, he said. That makes it Apple’s “fastest-growing region by far.”
For the fourth quarter of 2011, China contributed $4.5 billion, or 16 percent of the $28.7 billion in total revenue the company reported. It’s even more astounding when you compared that to Europe, which contributed $7.4 billion to Apple’s bottom line — that means China and its surrounding areas are accounting for a little over half of what Europe is.
Cook also reiterated the stats on its retail stores in area that he presented at the iPhone 4S event two weeks ago. There are now six Apple Stores in greater China (compared to 64 in Europe), and the Hong Kong location, which opened last month, saw more visitors on opening day than any other Apple Store. All the greater China locations are the company’s most-visited and highest-grossing retail stores, and there will be more China stores to come.
Cook made it clear Apple is going to ride the momentum in China as far as it can:
“In my lifetime I’ve never seen a country with as many people rising into the middle class aspiring to buy products that Apple makes. It’s an area of enormous opportunity. It has quickly become No. 2 on our lists of top revenue countries very, very quickly.”