Apple’s Cook Announces New China R&D Center on Beijing Trip

  • Apple has more than doubled sites in China to 45 since 2011
  • Manufacturing R&D spending in China has leapfrogged the U.S.

Tim Cook

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Apple Inc., facing mounting competitive pressure in China, plans to open a new research-and-development facility in the world’s second-biggest economy.

The site will bring together engineers from some of Apple’s existing centers, the company said during Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s visit to Beijing. Apple didn’t specify the office’s location or planned number of employees.

Apple has more than doubled its number of corporate sites in China to 45 since 2011, so the move may help it consolidate some of those facilities. Its spending on research and development has quadrupled in the same time frame as investors are eager to see results from other projects Apple is exploring amid slowing iPhone sales.

The Cupertino, California-based company has hired thousands of engineers to work on a self-driving car, while it’s also exploring virtual and augmented reality as potential new sources of revenue.

“The center will open later this year, bringing together our engineering and operations teams in China as we develop advanced technologies and services for our products,” Apple said.

China has become an increasingly attractive location to develop new products. The total spent on manufacturing research and development in China jumped from $92 billion in 2008 to $243 billion in 2013, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In the U.S., it increased from $204 billion to $221 billion in the same period.

Apple has also faced mounting regulatory pressure in China. The company was forced to shut down its iTunes Movies and iBooks services there in April, six months after they were permitted to operate. It also lost a patent case against a little-known Chinese rival relating to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, along with a trademark dispute over the use of the word IPHONE on leather goods.

Chinese news agency Xinhua earlier reported on the investment.

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