Apple will invest $1 billion into Uber's main car-hailing rival in China, Didi Chuxing, the tech company announced Thursday.

Reuters reported that the investment will only add to the Chinese company's sizable coffers—Reuters reported Didi is worth around $20 billion–but the investment signals that Apple is serious about the country's economic growth, and a potential future in the auto business.

Didi Chuxing, formerly Didi Kuaidi, is the largest ride-hailing service in China and accounts for nearly 90 percent of the country's ride-sharing business. The company says it provides more than 11 million rides each day.

Uber wants to break into the market in China, but so far has had little traction in the populous country. According to the BBC, Uber reports losing about $1 billion each year in China by offering fares with lower, subsidized rates.

Many analysts say that Apple's investment in Didi signals as much about the company's future in China as it does about the company's future as an automaker. Apple recently shuttered its iTunes store in China without notice, and Apple has been under increased pressure from Chinese officials to invest in the country's economy, according to the New York Times.

Notwithstanding political pressure, Apple has stockpiled auto industry talent and autonomous car knowledgepossibly a German lab site—for something, somewhere.

That iPhone money won't last forever; cars are the next smartphone, right?


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