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Apple sees business in mainland China picking up, but Hong Kong not so much

“I’m encouraged with the significant improvement, but we’re not without challenges there,” said CEO Tim Cook.

Guangzhou Opens First Apple Store VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Greater China was Apple’s weakest market for another quarter, but CEO Tim Cook says it is actually doing better in mainland China, with Hong Kong accounting for much of the weakness.

Overall, quarterly sales in greater China were down 12 percent from last year, but four points of that drop were accountable to the continued weakness in China’s currency. And that’s far narrower than the drop Apple has seen in recent quarters.

“It’s a significantly better performance ... any way you look at it,” Cook said on a conference call with analysts following its earnings report.

Perhaps more interestingly, revenue from mainland China was flat (and growing if you exclude the impact of the currency drop). Sales of the iPad were up double digits there, counter to the big declines Apple continues to see in the rest of the world.

The Mac also saw double-digit sales growth in mainland China, Cook said.

Cook said he was “encouraged” with the improvement Apple is seeing in China, but added that Apple is “not without challenges there.”

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