The 5 Largest Markets for Apple

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is a global company. With $74.6 billion in revenue just last quarter, it would have to be.

But which regions are most important to the iPhone maker? Below are Apple's five largest geographic markets based on its full fiscal 2014 sales.

North and South America still generate more than one-third of Apple's salesDespite its efforts at branching out, the American continents remain the most important markets for Apple's products. In fiscal 2014, the Americas generated 36% of the company's total net sales -- $65.232 billion. That was up 4% from fiscal 2013. Notably, though, the region's importance is declining -- it accounted for 37% of sales in 2013.

Apple's strong bias toward the Americas may be helped, somewhat, by the out-sized popularity of some of its more expensive products in the region.While Apple doesn't break out its product sales by geographic region, its iPad and Mac have historically been more popular in North America than in other markets.

It's worth pointing out, however, that the the United States may be even more important than these numbers suggest. Interestingly, Apple does not include sales through its retail stores in its geographic breakdown, instead putting them in a separate category. The bulk of Apple's retail stores are in the United States -- 259 out of 437 (nearly 60%) at the end of 2014. In total, its retail stores generated nearly 12% of Apple's sales last year.

Europe accounted for 22% of salesEurope comes in second, generating about 22% -- $40.929 billion -- of Apple's net sales in 2014. That's up 8% on a year-over-year basis, and about flat as a percentage of Apple's total revenue (though down slightly from 2012, when Europe accounted for 23% of Apple's sales).

The U.K. has been a consistently strong market for Apple's iPhone. In January, Kantar Worldpanel reported that iPhone sales represented 42.5% of smartphones sold in the U.K.from September through the end of November. Notably, however, Apple's European segment also includes a number of major markets that could eventually emerge as strong growth drivers, including India, Africa and the Middle East.

China is Apple's fastest-growing marketChina is behind Europe and the Americas, but is growing at a much more rapid pace. In 2014, China generated $29.846 billion in net sales for Apple -- about 16% of its total -- but that was up 17% from 2013.

China should overtake Europe as Apple's second-largest market at some point in the near future, perhaps even this year. In the first quarter of Apple's fiscal 2015, China sales grew by an astonishing 70% to $16.144 billion -- less than $1 billion shy of the tech giant's European sales.

Apple appears to be focused on China as its most important growth market. In January, the company said it planned to add 25 Chinese retail stores by the middle of next year.

The iPhone dominates JapanJapan is Apple's fourth-largest market, generating about 8% of its sales last year, $14.982 billion. That was up 11% from the prior fiscal year.

Japanese buyers have flocked to the iPhone. In terms of smartphone market share, the iPhone is more dominant in Japan than any other region. It has fallen in recent quarters, but as recently as the third quarter of 2013, Apple's iPhone accounted for almost two of every three smartphones sold in Japan.

The rest of the Asia-Pacific region brought in 6% of Apple's salesIn fifth place is the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. Those countries collectively generated $10.344 billion in net sales for Apple last year, or about 6% of its total. This actually represented a 7% decline from fiscal 2013, when the region generated $11.181 billion, or 7% of Apple's sales.

This decline might be attributable to several factors, including a stronger U.S. dollar and the lack of larger iPhone models for most of 2014. As a product category, phablets have proven to be exceptionally popular in these countries, and Apple's delayed entry into the category might have had a significant negative effect.

The U.S. dollar remains strong, but the release of the iPhone 6 Plus should help reverse this trend in 2015. In the first quarter, Apple's sales in the Asia-Pacific rose 33% on an annual basis.

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Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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