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Apple Hearts Asia and Tim Cook Loves Saying Sales There Are “Staggering”

How staggering? Revenue was up 175 percent last quarter. No wonder that’s the word Apple’s COO keeps using.

Forbidden City

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Of the record-breaking $26.74 billion Apple made in revenues last quarter, a small-ish, but growing, sliver–$2.6 billion–came from what the company refers to as “Greater China.” That includes mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. And revenue in Asia as a whole was up about 175 percent. On an earnings call with analysts Tuesday, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, (who has already made news while filling in for Steve Jobs), called those results “staggering.”

Several years ago, the company took a look at the BRIC countries–Brazil, Russia, India and China–and identified China as their top priority. “We put enormous energy into China,” Cook said. “The results of that have been absolutely staggering.” And he called the size of businesses Apple has built in Asia as a whole “massive.”

Cook said Greater China revenues were up 400 percent over the same quarter last year, and its revenue for all of FY2010 was $3 billion.

Whereas customers in North America and Europe first got to know Apple through their personal computers, and then adopted the company’s newer products as they rolled out, Cook said the reverse trend is happening in China.

“We have introduced millions of people in Asia to Apple through the iPhone, and we’re now introducing many more through the iPad,” he said. “And some of those decide to buy a Mac.”

Globally, Mac sales this past quarter grew 23 percent. In Asia Pacific, however, they grew 67 percent year over year, which, Cook said, was ten times the growth of the PC market as a whole.

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Other areas of Asia are also seeing growth. Revenue in Japan for the quarter was up 83 percent year over year, Cook said. “If you’re familiar with the Japanese economy, and the growth there, to grow 83 percent on the base that we’re doing is stunning.”

Cook also pointed to Korea as a country as a “very good market for us,” particularly in terms of iPhone and iPad sales.

Apple plans to continue focusing on Asia, Cook said. “We are placing more and more resources in these areas and continuing to look for expansion possibilities throughout Asia.”

[Images: Chinese flag: Flickr user Tomnono. Forbidden City: Flickr user Ray Devlin]

E.B. Boyd is Fast Company’s Silicon Valley reporter. Follow me on Twitter. Or shoot me an email.

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E.B. Boyd (@ebboyd) has holed up in conference rooms with pioneers in Silicon Valley and hunkered down in bunkers with soldiers in Afghanistan.

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