APPLE HAS THROWN $1bn at Chinese Uber competitor Didi Chuxing in a move that has fuelled speculation that the firm is revving up its own electric car plans.
Uber is the biggest cab-hailing service globally, but Didi rules in China by a considerable margin, claiming to have an estimated 87 per cent of the market with 300 million users and 11 million daily journeys.
"We are making the investment for a number of strategic reasons, including a chance to learn more about certain segments of the China market," Apple CEO Tim Cook explained to Reuters.
"Of course, we believe it will deliver a strong return for our invested capital over time as well."
Didi, which is a member of an 'anti-Uber alliance', said in a statement that the funding from Apple is the single largest investment it has ever received.
"With Apple we are confident that with data science and technology the company will be pushed to a new level," said Didi president Jean Liu.
The Chinese government issued a ban on Apple's iBooks Store and iTunes Movies services last month as part of a crackdown on online services owned by foreign companies that compete directly with similar offerings from Chinese companies.
Apple also admitted during its latest earnings call, during which it posted its first downturn in revenue for 13 years, that iPhone sales in China haven't been as bumper as they once were.
However, the move also suggests that Apple is looking to partner with Didi to bring its long-rumoured electric car to market. The so-called Apple Car will be ready to roll in 2019, according to speculation.
The investment could also see Apple Pay, which made its debut in China earlier this year, supported in Didi's cab-hailing app. µ
Rare protest is blocked at the source (code)
Galaxy Fold... more like Galaxy F***ed
And the nostril-facing webcam has been replaced
No port in a publicity storm