China's new wealthy will drive Apple invasion

Apple is expected to triple its sales in China over the next three years if bean counters at Morgan Stanley are to be believed.

According to a report on Bloomberg, analysts Katy Huberty and Mathew Schneider are predicting stellar growth for the Cupertino company as China's new middle classes generate unprecedented wealth.

Historically, Apple products have been dismissed by the communist country's stoic anti-American stance in favour of products manufactured closer to home, more often than not in far eastern sweatshops [er, just like Apple's then. Ed.] which pay little or no attention to international patents or copyrights.

But the curse of branding seems to have reached mainline China and the nouveau riche of Shanghai, Beijing and Chongqing have joined the western world in placing as much importance on a product's label as its functionality.

It's not about whether you are wearing a fake $10 Rolex or a genuine one... it's about whether you are savvy enough to be able to tell the difference.

Some analysts are so upbeat about the Chinese economy, or at least that part of the economy fuelled by the new undercurrent of wealth fuelled by Chinese technological advances and burgeoning exports of electronica, that they are predicting that companies like Apple will be saved from the current economic woes in the western world by China's ever-increasing appetite for the kind of premium products beloved of Apple fans.

As Chinese consumers become increasingly affluent, they'll start ditching the cheap Chinese knock-offs in favour of the real thing which could see Apple's bottom line in China growing from $2.9 billion last year to around $9 billion in 2012.

With a growing proportion of China's 1.3 billion population sharing the country's economic growth, and companies like Apple finally gaining traction with the opening of multiple Apple Stores in major cities, it's only a matter of time before Chairman Mao's Little Red Book is replaced by a little red iPhone, assuming Apple has more luck with that than with its white one.