This has been bothering me for a while. And it is not a rant about China's govt or censorship (and I hope the discussion that follows doesn't go this route), more on Apple's complicity and its use developer's hard work to fund its entry into China. Also please, no comments about this commenter about not knowing the Chinese "way" and that we must accept it. This is the world's second biggest economy, should all international commerce rules be re-written? Without further ado...
1. China has the most potential for Apple's products, it is growing and has the means to greatly lift Apple's profits. China's number one mobile operator has been forced to use proprietary substandard TDS-CDMA network technology for 3G, # 2 Unicom is poorly managed but at least its 3G standard meets international standards. #3 uses cdma. All 3 are government owned and leaders are appointed by the Central Committee (like the other big companies in China). Looking at the choices, Apple could only partner with Unicom... but it is a deal with the devil.
2. Many proponents of jailbreaking ascribe to the view that it is their right to use their legally bought hardware in any way they choose; Apple should not be the arbiter of what is deemed appropriate. Okay, but what is the response if that jailbreak is used to defraud app developers? This is the case in China.
3. Go to any market in Beijing - any - and for 50-80rmb your phone will be jailbroken, they will also sell you any size iPad, iPhone, Touch you need. Each comes with Cydia (the jailbreak) and two other icons. One figures out your phone number and sends constant text messages to you, the other is 91.com. 91.com is one of China's premier software piracy download sites. This icon gives you access to all of the 'paid' apps on the App store. It doesn't list free apps, but there is a twist. See, all the paid apps are 'free.'
Try for yourself (don't touch the English tab, it is a ruse, just use google translate). Touch the iPhone column, find the search box and type in your favorite app. For sake of argument, let's use Flight Control HD, $4.99 on the app store. On 91.com it is free (免费). I track downloads of my apps and the ratio is 96% of them are downloaded illegally in China. Less than one percent in Japan, by comparison. Other developers I have talked to have over a million illegal downloads in China.
4. The almost final point. So why is Apple complicit? Look at this
. And then look at the banner. For as long as I can remember, the banner ad has been China Unicom. To make it more clear: Apple's legal distribution partner in China advertises iPhones on the #1 iPhone app piracy site. This must be apparent to Apple (firstname.lastname@example.org, let me know if they respond).
One more... useful to go to taobao.com (China's Ebay) and type in iTunes into the search box...