Apple’s iPhone 6 release was unquestionably the biggest tech event of the year, and its new larger-screen iPhone 6 Plus definitely made waves. The device was intended to compete with Samsung’s highly popular Galaxy Note series which had seen very strong sales in Asia, especially China. Given that this market is critical to Apple’s strategy with the iPhone 6 Plus, you would think that it would be among the 8 nations to first get its hands on the device.
Not so. Apple is now stating that the iPhone 6’s release in China will be delayed, and no new release date had been provided by the company aside from a vague promise to release the device ‘soon’. At the same time, pre-order pages from major telecoms companies within China have been taken down, with no further information given.
So what has caused the hold up? Numerous theories abound, ranging from supply chain issues, to the company punishing the country for leaking device information, however the most likely cause seems to be regulatory issues. Bloomberg View reports that Apple is yet to receive the necessary ‘network license’ that it requires in order for its product to be sold in China.
While Apple may have messed up their paperwork, it is much more likely that they are being treated unfavorably by the Chinese government itself. In recent months the ruling Communist Party has taken measure to cripple the sale of foreign electronics within China, through government bans, and propaganda campaigns. This is motivated by a desire from the government to reduce the risk of being hacked by NSA-compromised by software and hardware.
Given the popular of Apple amongst Chinese consumers, it is unlikely the delay will last forever, but it is clear that the Chinese government is trying to send a message to Apple, that they are no longer going to be welcomed with open arms. It will be interesting to see how the company plans to fight back within this tightly controlled, yet critical market.
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