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Apple's mindshare in Asia far outweighs marketshare

With just a sliver of phone and computer sales in the world's most populous region, Apple still managed to top all other companies to become the region's most admired in a new ranking.

Apple took top honors in The Wall Street Journal's Asia 200 survey this year, despite reportedly having just 1.6 percent of the personal computer share in the region, and only 0.6 percent of the total mobile phone market. The company's perceived success among consumers is attributed to superior marketing and branding of themselves.

When broken down by attribute, Apple consistently appeared among the top five companies ranked by consumers in Asia. For long-term vision, the Mac maker was second, fifth for quality, fourth for corporate reputation, and second for innovation.

While Apple's presence in the region is minor — particularly in the smartphone market, where it has made great inroads in the western world — Apple is working to change that. Last month, the handset maker struck a three-year deal to sell the iPhone on carrier China Unicom. That non-exclusive agreement has left the door open for a separate agreement with the world's largest wireless carrier, China Mobile.

And while the iPhone had struggled at first in Japan, the handset has continued to grow in popularity over the years. This summer, it became the nation's top-selling smartphone.

Still, the Journal noted, struggles remain for Apple to penetrate the market.

"While the company's iconic iPod is popular in Asia, Apple's iTunes store remains out of reach of most Asian consumers," the report said. "Apple has set up iTunes in Japan and Australia only. Copyright is the big hurdle. Apple has to conclude deals with individual record labels at the country level to allow songs to be sold on the iTunes platform in each market. That labyrinth process has mired efforts to make the service more widely available in Asia. The company is also likely concerned about piracy in Asia, say many analysts."

Apple's strength in a global recession has earned the company respect internationally. Last quarter, the company's profits rose 15 percent on sales of 2.6 million Macs and 5.2 million iPhones. It was a record non-holiday quarter for the company, with $8.34 billion in sales for the three-month period that ended June 27.