Throughout 2014, the typically secretive Apple made no secret of its plans to dramatically ramp up its retail presence across the world's most populous nation in the coming months. With 2015 now here and Apple's groundwork in place, one store after the next will be opening throughout this new year.

This weekend, Apple will open its latest retail store in Tianjin. The company's Chinese website confirms a Saturday morning grand opening. All told, it's just the first wave of what's to come in 2015. Apple will have five new retail stores open in China (in as many weeks) by China's Lunar New Year (February 19).

Execs at Apple say the iDevice maker will open 25 additional Apple Stores in China by 2016, bringing the grand total of Apple retail stores in China to 40 by the middle part of 2016. And from there, the growth is expected to accelerate further (especially if the 40 stores in question perform as well as anticipated.)

"But Apple's Chinese expansion isn't without difficulties," says Rob Price of Apple. "Its main rival in the country, Xiaomi, is going from strength to strength. Xiaomi is the most valuable startup in the world, and almost uniquely for an Android manufacturer, it has a fanbase passionate enough to match Apple's own."

Nonetheless, even though Apple feels the heat, it's not getting out of the kitchen. Apple, understandably, is promoting its products aggressively throughout Chinese media and continues to see sales spikes despite a wave of more affordable competition throughout the Chinese mobile tech market.

Source: BI