Technology

Apple Axes 25K ‘illegal’ Apps From Chinese App Store To Please China

Chinese App Store Apple
Image Source: Apple.com (screenshot)

Apple has reportedly blocked about 25,000 apps from its Chinese App Store. The move follows criticism from the Chinese state media that the U.S. company is unable to keep its platform free of “illegal apps.”

Purging Chinese App Store

About 4000 of the apps that have been removed carried the term “gambling,” according to Bloomberg. Further, the 25,000 figure has been given by the state broadcaster CCTV. Apple’s move follows criticism by the state media, which claimed that the company is not doing enough to address illegal online activity.

Apple doesn’t follow its own rules when it comes to permitting apps on the App Store, and this has lead to the “proliferation of bogus lottery apps and gambling apps,” said CCTV, as quoted by The Wall Street Journal. The apps removed represent about 1.4% of the total apps in the Chinese App Store.

In a statement to Bloomberg, Apple said that the gambling apps are illegal and are not allowed in the Chinese App Store.

“We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store,” the iPhone maker said.

Apple’s App Store is the only major foreign app platform in the country. App stores run by the local companies – such as Baidu and Tencent – are also required to block banned foreign content and gambling apps.

Is Apple concerned about revenue?

The news of Apple blocking 25,000 apps isn’t all that surprising. It is the latest example of how the Chinese government has the final say over the operations of the foreign companies doing business in China. Also, it is not the first time that Apple has had to bend its rules to ensure the continuity of its Chinese operations.

In 2017, Apple blocked several virtual private network services from its Chinese App Store. The VPN services, which were used to fool China’s “Great Firewall,” failed to meet the Chinese regulations. And, earlier this year, the company shifted all Chinese user data to the servers based in China.

Apple’s latest move and criticism by the Chinese state media comes at a time when the trade tensions between the U.S. and China is at a concerning level. There are reports that if the tensions between the two countries continue, it could have a negative effect on Apple, which earns a major portion of its revenue from China.

Apart from selling its products in China, the U.S. company also manufactures a significant portion of its products there.

“Apple knows that China has a balance-sheet-changing marketplace and if they upset the government over there, they risk losing an important revenue territory. If nothing else it shows that Apple is commercially human after all,” Andy Barr, founder of a digital media agency, 10 Yetis, told VICE News.

A couple of weeks back, an article in the state-backed People’s Daily noted that Apple has leveraged cheap labor and a strong Chinese supply chain to make huge profits, and thus, it should share more profits with the Chinese people, or risk facing the “anger and nationalist sentiment” amid the ongoing trade war with the U.S.

Google’s plan to re-enter China

China is an important market not only for China, but for other U.S. companies as well. Google, which is blocked in the country, has for a long time been making efforts to re-enter China. Currently, the search giant is reportedly working on a plan to develop a China-compliant search engine and a news app. Google’s Chinese search engine would prevent users from accessing websites blocked by the government.

However, Google’s effort to re-enter China faced a backlash from the company’s employees, who were concerned about Google complying with Beijing’s censorship laws. Last week, CEO Sundar Pichai tried to address those concerns, saying that the company is in the “early stages” of its China plans, and that it is not even close to finalizing its product.

Further, Pichai also assured the employees of complete transparency in the development process.

“I genuinely do believe we have a positive impact when we engage around the world, and I don’t see any reason why that would be different in China,” the CEO said, according to Bloomberg.