On Wednesday, Apple(s AAPL) announced a new option for shoppers in China: payment installment plans for iPhone, iPad or MacBook buyers. Apple’s website in China says purchases between 300 yuan to 3,000 yuan can be paid in installments ranging from three months to 24 months. Interest only kicks in for plans stretching 18 months (6.5 percent) or 24 months (8.5 percent).
Tim Cook is planning on China being Apple’s biggest and most important market some day the company. Already it represents 15 percent of the company’s revenue. But to make larger strides there, Apple has been making some moves so that its products and services are more palatable to consumers in China.
So a move like a payment plan option that will make it easier for locals to afford iPhones might seem minor at first. But it’s a part of that focus begun more than a year ago. Near the end of 2011 Apple began offering iTunes payments in China’s currency. And in the last year, more region and language-specific options have also come to Apple’s operating systems, including support for Chinese characters, and local search and sharing on iOS and on the Mac.