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Apple Inc. (AAPL) Joins Alibaba by Supporting Didi – Uber’s Asian Rival

Apple Inc's Apple Store NASDAQ:AAPL

Apple Inc.  has made it a priority to get a better grasp on the very complex and critical Chinese market. Last week, the U.S. tech giant said that it was investing $1 billion in a Chineses ride-hailing service. The service, Didi Chuxing, is the Asian equivalent to America’s Uber.

Apple Inc's Apple Store NASDAQ:AAPL

CEO Tim Cook told Reuters this week that the billion-dollar investment was motivated by a number of factors. Not excluded from those reasons is the “chance to learn more about certain segments of the China market”. Although Cook was also quick to add that the venture would pull in a “strong return” as well.

Apple shows increased interest in Didi

Based in Beijing, Didi Chuxing (also known as Didi Kuaidi) is reported to be Uber’s great rival in the east. It too, on Thursday, made news of Apple’s increased interest and support. Jean Liu, Didi’s president, said although the deal was finalized very quickly, it does form part of a recurring batch of funding from the iPhone maker that is set to keep going.

Liu had only first met Cook nearly three weeks ago. It is believed that the idea for the two entities to work together came about and was finalized within that same time period. The decision to fund Didi with $1 billion is also said to open up a lot of chances for further collaboration for Apple and Didi.

Though Jean Liu failed to share the particulars of any future projects with Apple, it is clear that the opportunities to better their partnership are there. For instance, the world’s most successful company recently made its Apple Pay service available for use in the country. It is likely that the mobile payment service could be integrated with the Didi hailing app.

Apple Inc in trouble with China

Apple Inc has been dealing with a lot of push-back within the Chinese market as of late. It is said the company’s flagship product, the iPhone, is no longer as revered in China as it once was. Though still seen as a premium item, the high-end smartphone is not entirely immune to the effects of Asia’s large and ever-expanding handset scene. Leading services from Apple Inc were recently booted out of the east-Asian country as well. After a series on conflicting interests, the Chinese government asked the U.S. tech company to shut down its iTunes service. The company’s iBooks service too was forced to stop operating in the country.

On a more competitive note, Uber is not without its troubles in China either. The American ride-hailing company has been finding it very hard to grow in Asia and China in particular. This is despite company rising success in many countries elsewhere in the world. Didi is reported to have a stake in around 70 to 90 percent of the ride-hailing space in China. Gaining a formidable supporter like Apple is bound to make Uber’s growth in the region that much harder.

The deal would also help Apple Inc regain and strengthen its position in China after is recent round of setbacks. According to Liu, Apple joins a few other large tech entities who are currently in bed with Didi. The likes of Alibaba and Tencent are on Didi’s support roster as well.

“With Apple we are confident that with data science and technology the company will be pushed to a new level,” Liu said.

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