Did Apple Cave In To Chinese Pressure?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may be caving in to the pressure from China’s government, as it recently released a statement apologizing for its poor handling of the stream of media criticism from Chinese print and broadcast media outlets.

In the past few weeks, the Chinese communist party ran several campaigns on China Central Television and in the People’s Daily newspaper to damage Apple’s reputation in the country. The primarily aim of the campaign was to accuse Apple of having a discriminatory customer service policy in China. Chinese media subsequently criticized Apple’s handling and response to the matters.

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Now, Apple apologized for its inept handling of the situation and lack of an adequate response. The apology was posted on Apple’s Chinese website and signed by Apple CEO Tim Cook, who said, “we are aware that a lack of communications…led to the perception that Apple is arrogant and doesn’t care or attach enough importance to consumer feedback. We express our sincere apologies for any concerns or misunderstandings this gave consumers.”

The iPhone maker also announced that it would be changing its customer service practices in China and working to improve them. In regards to the iPhone 4 and 4S, the company will now completely replace broken phones — rather than only replacing¬†all the parts of the phone except the back cover — and it will work with resellers to make sure warranties are clearly understood and upheld…

It is uncertain whether this move will be satisfactory, given that the motives behind the smear campaign against Apple are unclear. It’s possible that the grief the government is giving Apple is an effort to make the company more pliant when it comes to making deals in China. This would relate to Apple’s inflexibility when it came to adding the necessary technology for its iPhones to function on the 3G network of China’s largest carrier, China Mobile (NYSE:CHL).

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The push from the Chinese Government could go even deeper, as China has a number of its own domestic smartphone and computer brands that are in direct competition with Apple. If the government is working against Apple in order to support the domestic brands, Apple’s customer service concessions may not be enough to turn things back in its favor.

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