The Chinese government decided to ban two iTunes products which may be detrimental to Apple’s continued success in the country, its second-largest market after America. China wants to encourage local products and business that rival Apple’s iTunes Movies and iBooks Store, which is why Apple users in the region won’t be able to purchase or rent movies and buy books from Apple anymore.
The two stores were launched in China just six months ago, after obtaining regulatory approval from the government. But now, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, demanded these services would be shut down immediately, The New York Times reports.
Apple has confirmed the decision. “We hope to make books and movies available again to our customers in China as soon as possible,” a spokesperson said.
As the Times explains, the move isn’t necessarily surprising for China, which seeks not only to promote local businesses over foreign, especially U.S.-based ones but also to control the kind of content its citizens can access. So far, this policy did not affect Apple’s growth in the country or its operations. But it looks like Apple won’t be an exception any longer, as regulators may intensify scrutiny into Apple’s business.
“They are interested in protecting the content that the Chinese people see, policing its national security and favoring indigenous giants such as Huawei, Alibaba, and Tencent,” New-York based advisory firm Rhodium Group’s founding partner Daniel H. Rosen told the Times. “[China] is strongly disinclined to accept the dominance of foreign players on the Internet, not least those from the United States.”
According to local media, President Xi Jinping of China conducted a meeting on Tuesday on the country’s Internet policies. Leaders from Alibaba and Huawei were present.
“China must improve management of cyberspace and work to ensure high-quality content with positive voices creating a healthy, positive culture that is a force for good,” he said, according to news service Xinhua.
Chinese customers spent $59 billion on Apple products last year, the Times reports, with the iPhone being a hit product in the country. This explains why China is so important for the company. Reduced access to Apple’s online services, including movies and books, might pose a problem, especially if China decides to ban other iTunes products in the region.