A trip on the subways of Shanghai or Beijing with carriages packed with people using iDevices will confirm the popularity of Apple's products in China, however they don’t seem to be so popular with its government. New moves being made by the Chinese government seek to make it more difficult for the US company to do business within the PRC.
The Chinese government announced yesterday that Apple products such as iPhones, iPads and Mac computers will be deliberately left off the list of products which public money can be spent on. This amounts to an effective ban on Apple products for government workers and offices, as well as possibly having a knock on effect towards other semi-state owned enterprises.
Such action could be quite harmful for Apple, as in the last year at least 16% of its total revenues came from the Chinese market. Indeed, much of the companies most recent growth has been driven by an explosion of sales in Asian markets, of which China is the largest. While of alot of these sales are from private citizens, government buyers nonetheless represented a large share, often in the form of semi-legal ‘gifts’ to facilitate business.
Most analysts believe this is motivated more by politics than real privacy concerns.
This latest move comes hot on the heels of similar bans on the government’s use of devices and services from other US based tech companies such as Microsoft and Google. While these bans were allegedly taken out in the name of data security, and public protection, most analysts believe they are motivated more by politics than real privacy concerns.
China has a long history of using rather opaque legal rulings to enforce a form of unofficial protectionism. This has been used to attack foreign companies, making it hard for them to do business in China, while at the same time creating room for home grown Chinese tech companies to grow. This is good for both the Chinese economy and the Chinese government as it is much easier to force native companies to toe the party line than it is for foreign multinationals.
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