Has Apple Ended Its China Blues?
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may have come to the end of its most recent struggles with the Chinese government, as its Monday apology and proposed customer service policy reform earned a favorable response from China’s state-controlled media.
Since the middle of March, Apple had been on the receiving end of a number of smear campaigns by the Chinese communist party through its People’s Daily newspaper and the state-run China Central Television. The campaigns called Apple out on discriminatory customer service practices in China, and later slammed Apple for not responding appropriately to the accusations.
However, Monday, Apple posted an apology on its Chinese website that was 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.”
In addition, the iPhone maker announced it would be changing its customer service practices in China for the iPhone 4 and 4S, by fully replacing broken phones, rather than only replacing certain parts. It will also make sure warranties are clearly stated and upheld for consumers…
This move from Apple may have done the trick, as the Chinese media quickly changed its tune on the company. A tabloid published by the People’s Daily said, “The company’s apology letter has eased the situation, softening the tense relationship between Apple and the Chinese market… Its reaction is worth respect compared to other American companies.”
It seems that Apple really lucked out in this situation, as the government could very well have maintained pressure on the company in order to favor domestic brands. As Apple’s second-largest and fastest-growing market, China has become important to the company, and in the future, pressure from its government could have the company kowtowing to ensure stability from time to time.