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Apple has more retail stores in Pennsylvania than China

A new profile on Apple's retail presence in China argues that the company has far too few brick-and-mortar locations to meet rabid demand for products among the nation's 1.3 billion people.

With just six stores in Greater China, Apple has one retail location per 216 million Chinese people, Reuters highlighted on Wednesday. In comparison, the state of Pennsylvania has a total of eight stores for a population of 12.7 million people.

Former Apple retail chief Ron Johnson said in early 2010 that Apple had plans to open a total of 25 retail stores in China. The company declined to explain why it failed to meet that original target, but Wednesday's report noted that growth could be held back by red tape involving new stores.

Demand for Apple products in China is only expected to increase as the company this week reached a settlement to use the iPad brand in China. That's expected to clear the way for the company's new third-generation iPad to go on sale in mainland China.

In cities where Apple has not yet expanded its retail presence, there are even some high-profile knock-off stores designed to look just like Apple's own retail operations. At one such store in Kunming, China, the location features a winding staircase and employees wearing blue t-shirts with Apple logos and name tags.

Apple Store Sanlitun in Beijing, China | Copyright: 变脸.

The company's first Chinese store opened in Beijing in 2008, just prior to the Olympic games. The company's second store also arrived in Beijing in June of 2009.

Market analysts such as Chris Whitmore of Deutsche Bank see Apple having "enormous" potential in China. In April, he predicted that Apple will sell at least 35 million iPhones in China in 2013.