Apple Inc.'s CEO Tim Cook attracted hundreds of thousands of followers on Monday, hours after he opened an account on China's Twitter-like Weibo.
"Hello China! Happy to be back in Beijing, announcing innovative new environmental programs", Cook announced at 3:06 pm through his first post on China's most popular social media platform.
The environmental initiatives launched by Apple include a multi-year project with the World Wildlife Fund to increase responsibly managed forests across China.
Cook attracted more than 200,000 followers in the first two hours after he appeared on Weibo. His first post was immediately commented on over 30,000 times and forwarded more than 20,000 times.
But it was obviously not the environmental programs that people are interested in.
Some wondered if the CEO would be generous enough to hand out some free iPhones to his Chinese followers.
"It's long tradition in Weibo that a person would give iPhones to his followers if his followers reach 10,000. Hope you won't break it," one joked.
Others wanted to know why Cook used a smaller screen iPhone 6 over an iPhone 6 Plus as his post suggested he sent the message through an iPhone 6.
Cook's move to open an account on Weibo came after Apple released its latest batch of quarterly earnings last week, which showed the company for the first time sold more iPhones in China than in the US.
Apple reported net income of $13.6 billion on revenue of $58 billion in the quarter that ended March 28 - year-on-year gains of 33.3 per cent and 27.2 per cent, respectively.
Most of Apple's revenue came from the Americas, where it reported $21.3 billion in sales. But a growing portion of that total, $16.8 billion, came from sales on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Cook has said that China's expanding middle class is fueling iPhone sales there.
According to new data by market researcher International Data Corporation on Monday, Apple has overtaken China's Xiaomi to become for the first time the largest vendor of smartphones in the Chinese market..
Apple grasped 14.7 per cent of market share in the first quarter of 2015, surpassing Xiaomi, which had a 13.7-per cent share.
The two companies were followed by state-owned Huawei, then Samsung and Lenovo.