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Apple halves number of licensed distributors in China

The opening of two new Apple Stores, one in Shenzhen this last weekend and the Wangfujing store in Beijing in late October, is a sure sign of Apple's strengthening control of its distribution channels in China. Now Patently Apple is reporting that the company has reduced the number of licensed distributors from four to two, relying on its own stores, electronics retailers and premium resellers.

Two nationwide licensed distributors, Beijing Founder Century Information Systems and Beijing Hanlinhui Information Industry, confirmed with Shanghai's First Financial Daily that they had lost their distribution deals. Century Founder is now serving as a premium reseller, opening its own stores in Henan, Hebei and Hanlinhui rather than distributing Apple products to other resellers. Those stores tend to make most of their income off of Apple product accessories, which have a profit margin of more than 30 percent, while the margin on Apple equipment is a slim 8 percent.

First Financial Daily also reported that the iPad mini launch drew smaller crowds in the Asian market than for other Apple products in the past. The Hong Kong Store reportedly had fewer customers than staff on hand, the Sydney, Australia store had about 50 people in line, and the Tokyo and Seoul stores both had about 100 customers in line at the opening.

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