Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 9:54 pm.

Watch As China Has Grown To Become Apple’s Second-Biggest Market

Apple has been sharing some details of its success in China for a while. But last week, Apple formally created a Greater China segment in its quarterly earnings materials — it previously reported only a broader Asia Pacific segment — and released two years of historical data. (“Greater China” also includes Taiwan and Hong Kong.)

The upshot: China is easily Apple’s fastest-growing market, with December-quarter sales up 67% year-over-year, compared to Apple’s 18% overall growth and 15% growth in the Americas. This is why I always think of China when topics like “cheaper new iPhone model!” come up.

China generated $6.8 billion of revenue for Apple last quarter, not including Apple retail stores, which are a separately reported category. (On Apple’s earnings call, CEO Tim Cook noted that China including retail was $7.3 billion, but Apple has only reported that data sporadically.) That’s about 13% of Apple’s overall sales, or ~14% if you include retail. But China represented 34% of Apple’s year-over-year December-quarter revenue growth, while the much-bigger Americas market represented 32%.

It wasn’t always this way. A few years ago, China didn’t deserve its own line on Apple’s reports. Now it clearly does.

One note: While this past quarter was Apple’s biggest ever overall, sales-wise, it wasn’t the biggest China quarter. Apple’s Greater China business generated a peak $7.6 billion during the March 2012 quarter, when the iPhone 4S launched in mainland China. ($7.9 billion including retail.) China represented 19% of Apple’s overall sales that quarter.

Apple China Charts

When might China pass the U.S. in sales for Apple? At Asymco, Horace Dediu predicted that it could happen by 2016. He also notes a surprising fact: Apple’s “China sales grew in three years as much as they did in the US in 33.”

Also: Apple’s Semi-Soft Quarter In Charts