Last week, users in China experienced a sudden loss of access to iTunes Movies and iBook store. It was later reported by New York Times that the stores have been shutdown by China’s government agency. Due to China’a policy of favouring it’s local manufacturers, it is very difficult for any foreign company, especially an American one, to run an outlet or service in the country. If any foreign company tries to capture a significant share of the Chinese market, the state agency will then push back.
iTunes Movies and iBook store services were launched in China six months back, ofcourse with approval of the government. However, Chinese regulators named “State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television” intervened and asked for these two services to be shut down. The reason for such a request hasn’t been made clear yet but it is very surprising considering Apple’s strong relationship with China’s government, unlike any other American company.
“We hope to make books and movies available again to our customers in China as soon as possible,” an Apple spokeswoman said in a statement.
After United States, China is the second largest market for Apple. A report released recently stated that Apple’s newly launched iPhone 5SE has affected the market share of China’s local smartphone manufacturers especially “Huawei” and has helped increase profits for the company. Additionally, during the past week, it was reported that Apple refused to share its iOS source code with China’s government which can be one of the many reasons why iTunes Movies and iBook store were shutdown.
Recently, China’s president Xi Jinping held an important meeting with China’s top tech leaders (including Jack Ma of Alibaba, Ren Zhengfei of Huawei and others) on the restrictive internet policies of China. The following statement was made by the President:
“China must improve management of cyberspace and work to ensure high-quality content with positive voices creating a healthy, positive culture that is a force for good,” a report by the state-run news service Xinhua quoted Mr. Xi as saying.
Apple is one of the companies that is under the government’s scrutiny and surveillance. It is not clear yet whether China will allow the services to resume again.