Apple may soon find a Great Wall coming in the way of further business growth in China. While growing its market share in mobile phones in recent years and being the only US-based content and services ecosystem to comply to the communist regime’s rigorous censorship demands to do business in the country, it may have grown too far, too fast.
Two anonymous sources close to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television say the authority demanded Apple close down its iBooks Store and iTunes Movies and that the company complied. Apple, through a spokesperson, stated that it hoped to make the services available in China again soon.
President Xi Jinping held a meeting this week with some of the country’s top tech executives including those from Alibaba and Huawei to discuss internet policy. The state-run Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying that he wants to look for “high-quality content with positive voices”. Xi’s policy has been to cut down foreign digital influence from companies like Apple, Microsoft and Cisco and to promote its homegrown services and content — more favorable to Communist Party dogma — from businesses like Baidu and Tencent.
The government has also wanted to crack down on communications and had previously proposed an antiterrorism law that would demand the turn-over encryption keys that tech companies used. Apple, in US congressional testimony, has previously stated that it did not give the keys to China. But after the Apple v FBI debacle, a similar case in China — if and when it would happen — would not bode well for Cupertino’s continued prospects in the country.
Apple isn’t likely to give up a revenue engine as rich, though burdensome, as China. And yet we wonder how far a giant will go to appease another giant?
Source: The New York Times