“Tim Cook sounded confident as he tried to reassure disappointed investors on an earnings call earlier this week. But analysts managed to put the revered Apple CEO on the defensive,” Sam Frizell reports for TIME Magazine. “‘2013 came around, we’ve got some new products, obviously, but nothing really from our new product category,’ Brian Marshall, analyst at ISI Group said to Cook on the call. ‘Do you care to comment on the innovation cycle of the company and the cadence there?’ ‘Are you still a growth company?’ challenged Ben Reitzes, an analyst at Barclays.”

“Cook and Apple’s management team have one thing to very confident of, even as investors and analysts become more comfortable putting difficult questions to them. And that one thing is: China,” Frizell reports. “China’s technology market is booming, and the country is making up an increasingly large slice of Apple’s revenue. Emerging markets now look like they’ll be the biggest new source of revenue for Apple. Sales in the Americas last quarter actually declined by 1% compared with the year-ago period. But the company’s sales in China increased by a full 29%. And with Apple’s sales in China hitting $8.8 billion last quarter, that part of the company’s sales are almost half its $20.1 billion Americas revenues.”

“Some analysts have roasted Cook for lack of innovation at Apple. Cook’s focus on China may be the best way to get his feet out of the fire,” Frizell reports. “The country’s population of 1.3 billion and its economy’s 7% growth rate makes it one of the most attractive markets for any company. Its growing middle class has shown a voracious appetite for electronic and consumer products from global companies.”

Read more in the full article here.