Getting transit directions in China was far more important for Apple than getting US transit directions. Consider just a few numbers:
- The US has ten cities with a population over 1 million. China has 171.
- The US has 34 cities with a population over 500,000. China has 450.
- In 2014, China had 62M vehicles of all kinds registered, in a country of 1.3 billion. This is expected to reach 200M by 2020.
Most people in China get transportation by public transit. Having a mapping service in China without transit directions would be like having one in the US without driving directions.
The reason why Apple with a little help by Alibaba is starting with 300 cities in China for transit directions and why for example Uber and others are going all in when it comes to China.
China is ground zero concerning city focused apps and services.