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Tim Cook makes a surprise appearance at Chinese Honor of Kings tournament

The unexpected live appearance comes amid a turbulent period for Apple’s relations with China
Tim Cook makes a surprise appearance at Chinese Honor of Kings tournament
  • Apple has increasingly come under scrutiny by Chinese regulators
  • China represents 19% of Apple’s global revenue
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Apple CEO Tim Cook has made an appearance at Tencent’s most recent gaming tournament, endorsing their biggest game even as Apple’s future in China remains uncertain. The company has been increasing acknowledging the relevance and earnings of China’s mobile gaming industry, with significant time given to miHoYo titles Honkai: Star Rail and Genshin Impact at the recent iPhone 15 Launch event.

Bloomberg reports that Cook made a surprise visit to Apple’s Taikoo Li store in Chengdu, thanking gamers taking part in an official Tencent-backed Honor of Kings tournament. The game has long been one of the world’s most successful and profitable mobile titles, helping to send Tencent to a lofty position as the world’s biggest gaming company.

“The exciting Honor of Kings was born in Chengdu and is now popular all over the world on the App Store,” wrote Cook, in a Weibo post. “Thanks to Tianmei Studio and all the high-end players who participated in the competition at Apple Taikoo Li Chengdu. It’s so hot tonight! The action-packed Honor of Kings started here in Chengdu and is now a global phenomenon on the App Store.”

Bow to the king

Cook’s appearance comes during a tricky period for Apple in China. The country represents a massive 19% of Apple’s total revenue, and the company has long dominated China’s high-end smartphone market. However, the Chinese government is seemingly taking steps to clamp down on Apple, recently banning the use of iPhones among government officials. miHoYo and NetEase also recently blocked Alipay payments on iOS devices, and Apple initially failed to comply with China’s newest app store regulations before falling in line earlier in October.

This troubled period has seen the newly released iPhone 15 struggle in the Chinese market, with sales down 4.5% in the first 17% compared to the iPhone 14, according to Counterpoint Research. As such, it appears that Cook’s appearance may be an attempt to curry favour with Chinese consumers, or even reiterate the company’s willingness to play ball with the country’s increasingly strict regulations.

39 out of the world’s top 100 mobile gaming publishers of September are based in China, generating a combined $1.96 billion in revenue.