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Apple invests $1 billion in Chinese Uber rival

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Apple has invested an astonishing $1 billion in China's leading ride-hailing service, Didi.

Uber may be the leading ride-hailing service globally, but Didi rules the lucrative Chinese market by a considerably margin. It has an estimated 87 percent of the market, and things are set to really take off over the coming years.

Didi currently provides 11 million daily rides for an audience of 300 million users across China, but hundreds of millions of potential customers should be added over the coming years as the Chinese economy develops.

Which only partially explains why Apple is ploughing an extraordinary $1 billion of its own money into the company. Suffice to say, this is the single largest investment Didi has ever received.

"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."

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Those 'strategic reasons' could well include the fact that Apple has run into some unexpected trouble in China of late. Last month, the government shut down Apple's local iBooks Store and iTunes Movies services in an apparent clamp-down.

Of course, the other pertinent point here is that Apple is widely believed to be seeking an entry to the autonomous car market with the so-called Apple Car. Gaining a major stake in one of the world's big ride-hailing services could be another step along that path.

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What do you think Apple's game is with this latest investment? Let us know in the comments.

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