Apple’s China challenges are clear as firm moves to finally sell new iPad there

July 10, 2012

With the Proview lawsuit over the iPad name behind it, Apple will begin selling its latest tablet in China starting next week. According to the Associated Press, Apple will sell the iPad for the same price it fetches in the United States — starting at $499 — and also offer Chinese customers a discounted version of the iPad 2 starting at $299.

The Chinese government approved the tablet months ago, but the company’s dispute with Chinese electronics manufacturer Proview had kept the Cupertino, Calif.- based firm from getting the third-generation tablet onto store shelves in China. Apple had previously bought the rights to the iPad name from Proview’s Taiwanese-based affiliate, but a judge ruled that the Chinese parent company did not have to abide by that deal. Ultimately, Apple paid $60 million to settle the dispute and gain ownership of the name.

The case highlights just one of the challenges Apple faces in China — one of the markets on which it is most focused. Another company has emerged there disputing Apple’s right to sell Snow Leopard — Apple’s current operating system — because of a trademark claim, Forbes reported. And the China Daily flagged a lawsuit that a Shanghai-based company had filed claiming that the company stole its idea for a computerized personal assistant.

Experts have said that Apple and other U.S. companies will continue to face problems in China because it’s not clear how the country will resolve commercial disputes.

Apple has seen massive growth in China, saying in April that its iPhone sales in mainland China alone had increased five-fold in its last quarter. Riots broke out in China at Apple stores when the iPhone 4S launch was delayed in January, and there were reports last July of whole fake Apple stores operating in the country. Pent-up demand for the iPad is likely to send sales numbers skyrocketing when the device launches.

The company is building out its retail operation in China, where Reuters reports it currently has one retail store per 216 million Chinese.The company has six stores there, the report said, a far cry from the 25 the company had projected in 2010 that it would have by this year. It is planning to launch two more stores soon, the Wall Street Journal reported last month: one in Chengdu and one in Shenzhen, where Proview is based.

Related stories:

Apple and Proview settle over iPad name

Proview files suit against Apple in U.S. court

Proview accuses Apple of fraud, unfair competition

iPad trademark dispute shows troubles of doing business in China

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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