Apple Inc. currently offers native version of its Apple News service in U.S., UK, and Australia but you can also access it around the world. International access to the app is easy if you’ve downloaded the News App from the app store for the U.S, UK or Australia; however, Apple seems to have changed the rules of the game as it now blocks access to the News App from China. New York Times reports that the tech giant blocks its news app from everyone in China – you are left out even if you bought your iPhone in the U.S.
The news about Apple’s blockade of the News App sheds some light on the power of censorship in China where the government keeps an eye on the kind of information you can access within its borders. However, there are signs that the Chinese government has not even asked Apple to censor News App; yet, Apple has chosen on its own to block the app in the country.
Apple is China’s Big Brother
Quartz reports that three different Apple users have confirmed the blockage of the News App in China even though Apple hasn’t confirmed or denied the news officially. One of the three users who confirmed the blockage noted that you can’t access the News App if you are on a Chinese network and that you can’t even access the articles you’ve saved up to read in offline mode. In addition, users won’t be able to use the App with or without a VPN service within greater China.
Apple has taken extreme measures to conform to Chinese censorship rules even when there were less-drastic alternatives. Apple could have allowed the Great Firewall to ban access to its News App; it could have worked within the censorship framework to limit the kind of news that could be accessed within China. However, the firm “appears to have deliberately neutered Apple News for all users who open it up in China”.
Larry Salibra, who runs a startup in Hong-Kong was one of the people to raise concerns about Apple’s move to block News App in China. He says, “They’re censoring news content that I downloaded and stored on my device purchased in the USA, before I even enter China just because my phone happens to connect to a Chinese signal floating over the border… What make me uncomfortable is them enforcing rules of other countries on my device which I didn’t buy in that country even when I’ve turned off location services. ”
Apple won’t take chances in China
China is key to Apple’s long-term growth and profits, and it seems the tech firm does not want to ruffle feathers in the country. China is Apple’s biggest market after the U.S. and the country accounts for 50% of the firm’s overall revenue growth. In the last quarter, Chinese revenue more than doubled to $13B and the tech market understands that the bigger iPhones packed in gold cases are designed with the average Chinese buyer in mind.
It seems the firm is going above and beyond in dancing to the tunes of Chinese authorities as part of its effort to retain access to the Chinese market. However, Apple is trying too hard to appease the Chinese authorities by censoring content on its iPhones. Nonetheless, Apple is making a politically correct move and shareholders will be ones smiling to the banks when all is said and done.