Apple Inc has been having a hard time in China since China Central Television (CCTV) revealed on March 15 that the technology giant allegedly applies a different service policy to Chinese consumers than in other countries and regions. A wave of onslaught has surged in Chinese State media in the past few days, with Chinese authorities ordering the company to change its policies or face punishment according to Chinese regulations.
However, many Chinese fans have shown their loyalty toward Apple, allying with some foreign media outlets in saying that this is a "well-coordinated" campaign led by the Chinese government to pinch the US company. It is also said that Apple is merely the victim of China's vengeance against the US government's treatment of Chinese telecom giants. China's Huawei and ZTE have long been restricted in the US markets under security and other accusations.
The drama began as a typical business incident, as CCTV did not only point its finger at Apple in its March 15 exposé. It is no good for either side that the issue is gradually turning political.
Generally speaking, CCTV's annual showcase program on World Consumer Rights Day has played a positive role in digging out business scandals. It is also the reason why the program has remained influential among Chinese viewers for a long time.
Had Apple been more sincere in its response to the criticism, the result could have been different. The statement Apple made right after the CCTV exposé was very different with that of other multinational companies who were also reported to have consumer rights issues. With the sheer weight of the company behind it, Apple's detached tone could easily be seen as proof of arrogance.
Apple has won respect from Chinese consumers with its perseverance in developing leading technologies and styles. But the company is not impeccable. Like its continuing stride in exploring for technological breakthroughs, the company also needs to keep working hard to raise its service quality.
Apple should not follow the media speculation and consider itself the target of political persecution. As for its fans in China, if they do love this brand, they should let the truth emerge instead of joining the speculations.
If the issue developed into a head-on confrontation between Apple and the Chinese authorities, the US company will never be a winner, nor will China necessarily do well. Of course, Apple will suffer the most, as its products are already facing increasing competition in China.
It will be wise for Apple not to entangle itself into political debates. For Apple, it is still a matter of business.