The list of apps to play for real money on the App Store in China has been drastically reduced in recent weeks. It is pertinent to clarify that these were gaming applications not legally regulated or considered directly illegal in this country; However, that does not seem to make things easier for Apple when it comes to being perceived in a more positive way.
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The pressure exerted by the media
It is not the first time it happens (and probably not the last). Apple has already removed applications other times in response to pressures from different areas, mainly from the Chinese government. But on this occasion, several circumstances indicate that the situation seems to be somewhat different.
It has been the same state media that have reported the withdrawal by Apple of 25,000 applications of online gaming and betting from China’s App Store. This happened after a considerable amount of media of all kinds (again backed by the government), criticized Apple for the filtering system with which it selects the apps it offers.
Apparently, it was clear that the list of apps for games and bets in which it was possible to invest real money included titles declared illegal for a long time in the country. But a significant number had managed to sneak in and receive the approval of Apple to be included in the list of available apps, posing as lottery applications.
Apple response after the removal of apps
After the crack, Apple did not directly recognize the aggressive criticism suffered by the media or the pressures buried as a form of repression. It merely corroborated that both the titles declared illegal and the applications coming from operators considered as undesirable had been eliminated. Likewise, he declared that they were vigilant in a very active way in their search for other possible illegal titles.
Why this time the situation has been different?
Apparently, at first glance the facts are not particular. In compliance with the laws of each jurisdiction in which it offers its services, Apple periodically withdraws apps that are located outside the legality or may violate the rules in response to changes in legislation. What happens is that unlike at other times, in this last massive withdrawal, Apple’s actions did not respond to compliance with recently enacted laws.
The 25,000 apps mentioned above would have been withdrawn as part of a movement to adapt to laws that had been in force for a long time: therefore, it could be interpreted that the company would simply be trying to be consistent with existing regulations. But, if so, why have you waited until now to do it? If the situation was really so clear, why were no complaints filed or actions taken previously?
Keys to Apple’s situation in China
So far, nothing exceptional. But the drastic of this last action is indicative of the hard challenges that Apple is currently facing when doing business in China. To this day you must carefully guard between maintaining your good relations with the Chinese government, giving in to your wishes without undermining your own general image and maintaining the integrity of your principles for the rest. And all this, while simultaneously dealing with the impact of the tariffs imposed by the United States government.
In any case, the option to withdraw from the Chinese market is not something to contemplate, especially when a large part of the sales it makes are destined for the region of the Asian giant. After the results that have followed the resolution of this last problem, it has become evident that while Apple wishes to establish itself in a reliable way in China, it must be ready to resolve with urgency (and tact) protests like this one.