During the late Steve Jobs' entire tenure as chief of Apple, he never visited China. But now the company is hoping it's not too late to the invest resources into country Jobs ignored.
Chinese ride-hailing app Didi announced an important part of its latest round financing and said that Apple will invest USD1 billion in the company. This is reportedly the largest single investment received by Didi. With this investment, Apple will become a strategic investor of Didi.
Cheng Wei, founder and chief executive officer of Didi, said that Apple's recognition of the company is encouraging for Didi. The company will continue to make efforts to provide flexible and reliable traveling options to people and help solve traffic, environment, and employment challenges.
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, said that Didi represents the innovative spirit of Chinese iOS developers. He said Didi's platform and management team are amazing and they are looking forward to supporting the long-term development of Didi.
But while it may look from the outside that this is a China-centric deal with Apple trying to appease both the Chinese government and its investors that it is taking China seriously (Apple saw stagnant China mobile growth in its last financial report), this is really a deal aimed at cars.
Specifically, self-driving cars are on Apple's mind. And the company is looking to the future where Uber and Lyft, which has a close investment and business alliance with China's Didi, are the global kings of providing driverless car services.
Didi's business currently covers over 400 cities in China. It serves nearly 300 million users by completing 11 million orders on a daily basis. Imagine how that will translate to rides in Apple's self-driving cars once it rolls those out. The problem in China, though, is rival Baidu.com, the Chinese search engine, is rumored to be nearing a commercial-grade release of its own driverless automobile too.