Apple Inc. takes Chinese consumer tastes into account when it designs many of its products, Chief Executive Tim Cook said, underscoring the country’s importance to the iPhone maker.

The company considers details including color palettes to suit local tastes, Cook said in an interview in the June 17 Chinese-language version of Bloomberg Businessweek, published under license by Modern Media Holdings.

The decision to offer a gold iPhone last year reflects in part the popularity of that color among Chinese users, he added. Greater China, which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong, is now Apple’s second-largest market and has become a battleground for the company as it vies with Samsung Electronics Co. and Xiaomi Corp. for smartphone supremacy.

Apple’s CEO made his remarks during a tour to China last month that took him to the company’s largest store worldwide, in the eastern city of Hangzhou. In the same interview, Cook said the watch is off to a promising start and has attracted more developer interest than the earliest iPhones and iPads had.

Developers are working on more than 3,500 apps for the gadgets, he said. That’s well ahead of the 500 apps available for the 2008 edition of the iPhone and the 1,000 for the first iPad in 2010, he added.

Litmus Test

Apple has kept mum on initial sales for the device, considered its first truly new product since the death of co-founder Steve Jobs. It’s also a key test of Cook’s ability to shape the company’s products.

Greater China accounted for 29 percent of Apple’s revenue in the March quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

While in China, Cook also visited schools, where he talked about the importance of education and said he was gratified to see the students had an insatiable appetite for learning.

To that end, Apple is throwing its weight behind a fledgling Chinese mobile technology learning program. It’s helping orchestrate more than 180 trial programs intended to teach kids everything from how to compose music on the GarageBand app, to helping hearing-impaired children operate phones, he said in the interview.

He said he hoped to expand the number of programs by roughly 50 percent before the end of 2015. The aim, he said, was to transform traditional educational models and help students contribute to society.

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