Apple's apology in China part of a 'rite of passage' for foreign companies

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
International companies trying to break in to the Chinese market are routinely criticized by state-controlled media, forcing apologies like the one Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook gave this week.

The so-called "rite of passage" for foreign companies in China was profiled on Tuesday by Bloomberg, which noted that corporations such as Volkswagen AG, Carrefour SA, and Yum! Brands Inc. have also been targeted by the government-controlled China Central Television. Apple specifically was under fire for failing to replace the back covers of iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S units after repairing the electronics inside, which prompted weeks of criticism from the state-run media.

image


Following the CCTV report, another state-run media organization, the People's Daily newspaper, ran more than a dozen articles that also targeted Apple.

Those attacks pushed Cook to issue a formal apology on Apple's website on Monday. The CEO said that a number of "misunderstandings" over the company's warranty policies had occurred, while revealing changes that aim to better serve iPhone customers.

Apple will now provide customers will full iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S replacements. Receiving a replacement phone will also reset the hardware's warranty to one year.

The strategy has apparently worked: The same newspapers that attacked Apple are now heaping praise on the American company, citing proactive measures taken by Cook. Even China's Foreign Ministry gave approval, calling Apple's revised policies evidence that the company had "conscientiously" responded to consumers.

For its part, CCTV has claimed it wasn't told by the government to set its sights on Apple, and the People's Daily said it stories were published because "Apple has stirred public anger."

China has become an increasingly important market for Apple in recent years, and was responsible for about 15 percent of the company's total sales in fiscal 2012. Cook has pushed for Apple to have a greater presence in China, expanding iPhone distribution and opening flagship retail stores, and the strategy has paid off.

China's role in Apple's business is so important that one estimate published this week suggested the anti-Apple campaign by China's state-run media could have a $13 billion effect on the iPhone maker's sales.

The effects of Chinese media are why companies like Apple have chosen to publicly apologize in an effort to lessen the damage. After Toshiba was accused by state media in 1999 of treating Chinese and American customers differently, the Japanese electronics maker lost its No. 1 spot in Chinese notebook sales.

A more recent attack in China on Yum Brands, which is part of KFC, resulted in a 20 percent hit on year-over-year sales. Yum was accused of having too many antibiotics in its chicken meat, and the company issued an apology in January.
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 44
    zarenzaren Posts: 49member
    And when replacing the entire phone they will be pulling possible grey-market phones off of the market, and replacing them with authentic models.
  • Reply 2 of 44
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,885member
    Toyota chief was summoned to US Congress to apologize. Although Department of Transportation later found no evidence of most of the claims.
  • Reply 3 of 44


    People are making a much bigger deal of it stateside than it actually is. (I had issues with the mapgate apology.... since it revealed some possible strategy implementation deficiencies; but not so much with this one). 


     


    Suck it up. Move on. It's the right thing to do, given the law in this situation, the culture, and the importance of the country both as a supplier and as a market. Getting caught up in cheap ego issues is not worth it.

  • Reply 4 of 44
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member


    What do they say about people who live in glass houses?

  • Reply 5 of 44
    Government thinks it's God, but it's time for the people to return government to minimal interference in our lives. This is what is needed in China -- a revolution to end Communism.

    These stories are just ridiculous what people let government get away with. Granted, we have plenty of our own problems in the U.S.!
  • Reply 6 of 44
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,893member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tzeshan View Post



    Toyota chief was summoned to US Congress to apologize. Although Department of Transportation later found no evidence of most of the claims.


     


    yeah, and which Department of Transportation was that? It was the US Department of Transportation. 


     


    Sure, American politicians are as big of a-holes as any in the world. But they are constrained in the damage they can do by a constitutional legal system that really does matter. 


     


     


    That's the difference between a country run by laws versus a country run by the whims of a glorified junta. 

  • Reply 7 of 44
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Government thinks it's God, but it's time for the people to return government to minimal interference in our lives. This is what is needed in China -- a revolution to end Communism.

    These stories are just ridiculous what people let government get away with. Granted, we have plenty of our own problems in the U.S.!

    It appears as if roughly half the people in this country think that they're in mortal danger from their own government. That's a lot of people sensing a lot of malice and threat. I worry that I don't see it. Sure, I see inefficiency and incompetence, but I've always seen that - regardless of which party's in office. And frankly, I've always welcomed it. I don't like my big bureaucracies to be cold, calculating, profit-making enterprises driven by a steely, clear-headed singular vision. A cursory glance through history would indicate that well-organized governments tend to enjoy well-organized parades, followed by well-organized ethnic cleansing. Which is why I celebrate the magnificent, muddle-headed ineptitude of our democracy. As far as I'm concerned, a little confusion and waste may keep the trains from running on time, but it also keeps people like me from getting a one-way ticket in a cattle car. Are our tax dollars being misspent on poorly run social programs? You bet! Do we get more buck for our bang at the local Post Office, Amtrak station, nuclear submarine or methadone clinic? Of course we do! But keep in mind that bureaucrats who can't find their ass with a flashlight and a hand mirror are not likely to find you either. To paraphrase Bobby McGee: "Freedom's just another word for who the hell's in charge here?!" #396



    PS: I think Walmart is having a sale on aluminum foil, but use cash and wear a disguise so they don't know what you're up to¡
  • Reply 8 of 44
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post




    It appears as if roughly half the people in this country think that they're in mortal danger from their own government. That's a lot of people sensing a lot of malice and threat. I worry that I don't see it. Sure, I see inefficiency and incompetence, but I've always seen that - regardless of which party's in office. And frankly, I've always welcomed it. I don't like my big bureaucracies to be cold, calculating, profit-making enterprises driven by a steely, clear-headed singular vision. A cursory glance through history would indicate that well-organized governments tend to enjoy well-organized parades, followed by well-organized ethnic cleansing. Which is why I celebrate the magnificent, muddle-headed ineptitude of our democracy. As far as I'm concerned, a little confusion and waste may keep the trains from running on time, but it also keeps people like me from getting a one-way ticket in a cattle car. Are our tax dollars being misspent on poorly run social programs? You bet! Do we get more buck for our bang at the local Post Office, Amtrak station, nuclear submarine or methadone clinic? Of course we do! But keep in mind that bureaucrats who can't find their ass with a flashlight and a hand mirror are not likely to find you either. To paraphrase Bobby McGee: "Freedom's just another word for who the hell's in charge here?!" #396







    PS: I think Walmart is having a sale on aluminum foil, but use cash and wear a disguise so they don't know what you're up to¡


    I don't need to point out I agree with the guy about the "single-focus government" inherent ability to turn into a ethnic-cleansing machine? 


    Also, if he needs tinfoil, i have a supply ready¡

  • Reply 9 of 44
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    PS: I think Walmart is having a sale on aluminum foil, but use cash and wear a disguise so they don't know what you're up to¡


    Since it is Walmart, I'm sure the tin foil is made in China so you need to inspect it carefully for possible hidden mind control chips¡

  • Reply 10 of 44
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post


     


    yeah, and which Department of Transportation was that? It was the US Department of Transportation. 


     


    Sure, American politicians are as big of a-holes as any in the world. But they are constrained in the damage they can do by a constitutional legal system that really does matter. 


     


     


    That's the difference between a country run by laws versus a country run by the whims of a glorified junta. 



    It's a bit harsh to say that the US is run by the whims of a glorified junta. Sure, the militaro-industrial complex is powerful and has already gotten rid of trouble makers, either in America or foreign countries, and yes, there have been some deranging stories about links between Presidents/Administration members/Senate and big money, but America is doing quite a good job respecting rule of law.


     


    While I sometimes strongly disagree with America's policies, or lack thereof, predatory foreign behavior in the name of Liberty, and behavior towards their own population, it is, in my opinion, one of the countries that does the best job at the attempt to obtain something like a democracy that works. It is a ultimately impossible  utopia to have a perfect democracy, with efficient capitalism and no conflict of interest between business and politics, since political families will also yield business leaders, and business will try to sway politics. America does a great job of balancing both.

  • Reply 11 of 44
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lightknight View Post




    It's a bit harsh to say that the US is run by the whims of a glorified junta. 



    Knowing Blastdoor from his other comments, I'm sure he meant the reverse. The US being the country ruled by law and China being the glorified junta.

  • Reply 12 of 44

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lightknight View Post


    It's a bit harsh to say that the US is run by the whims of a glorified junta. Sure, the militaro-industrial complex is powerful and has already gotten rid of trouble makers, either in America or foreign countries, and yes, there have been some deranging stories about links between Presidents/Administration members/Senate and big money, but America is doing quite a good job respecting rule of law.


     


    While I sometimes strongly disagree with America's policies, or lack thereof, predatory foreign behavior in the name of Liberty, and behavior towards their own population, it is, in my opinion, one of the countries that does the best job at the attempt to obtain something like a democracy that works. It is a ultimately impossible  utopia to have a perfect democracy, with efficient capitalism and no conflict of interest between business and politics, since political families will also yield business leaders, and business will try to sway politics. America does a great job of balancing both.



     


    I think in his original post, he was referring to America as the country run by laws and China as the country run by a glorified junta

  • Reply 13 of 44
    Damn. If it was so easy to get an apology, maybe China shoulda criticized Apple for failing to make a cheap Android phablet full of porn, viruses, and specs. /s
  • Reply 14 of 44
    stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    People are making a much bigger deal of it stateside than it actually is. (I had issues with the mapgate apology.... since it revealed some possible strategy implementation deficiencies; but not so much with this one). 


     



    Interesting point. But I see both incidents as manifestation of a less reticent Apple under Cook.


     


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


     


    Suck it up. Move on. It's the right thing to do, given the law in this situation, the culture, and the importance of the country both as a supplier and as a market. Getting caught up in cheap ego issues is not worth it.


     



     


    I agree it is sort of the right thing to do. But it is unusual to do this publicly in this manner. Certainly, is there history of another large company issuing a similarly public apology?


     


    Regardless, moving on is the right thing to do. What else can we do?

  • Reply 15 of 44
    stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post




    It appears as if roughly half the people in this country think that they're in mortal danger from their own government. That's a lot of people sensing a lot of malice and threat. I worry that I don't see it. Sure, I see inefficiency and incompetence, but I've always seen that - regardless of which party's in office. And frankly, I've always welcomed it. I don't like my big bureaucracies to be cold, calculating, profit-making enterprises driven by a steely, clear-headed singular vision. A cursory glance through history would indicate that well-organized governments tend to enjoy well-organized parades, followed by well-organized ethnic cleansing. Which is why I celebrate the magnificent, muddle-headed ineptitude of our democracy. As far as I'm concerned, a little confusion and waste may keep the trains from running on time, but it also keeps people like me from getting a one-way ticket in a cattle car. Are our tax dollars being misspent on poorly run social programs? You bet! Do we get more buck for our bang at the local Post Office, Amtrak station, nuclear submarine or methadone clinic? Of course we do! But keep in mind that bureaucrats who can't find their ass with a flashlight and a hand mirror are not likely to find you either. To paraphrase Bobby McGee: "Freedom's just another word for who the hell's in charge here?!" #396







    PS: I think Walmart is having a sale on aluminum foil, but use cash and wear a disguise so they don't know what you're up to¡


     


    Little do you know that, along, the other half has been protecting those of us free of paranoia. Show some appreciation. If not for them, we too would be in shackles.

  • Reply 16 of 44
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,893member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Knowing Blastdoor from his other comments, I'm sure he meant the reverse. The US being the country ruled by law and China being the glorified junta.



    bingo. 


     


    I'm a pro-American liberal. I think America sucks... except when compared to everyone else. 

  • Reply 17 of 44
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    stelligent wrote: »
    I agree it is sort of the right thing to do. But it is unusual to do this publicly in this manner. Certainly, is there history of another large company issuing a similarly public apology?

    Read the Bloomberg article - they give a lot of examples:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-02/apple-s-apology-in-china-a-rite-of-passage-for-foreign-brands.html
  • Reply 18 of 44
    stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tzeshan View Post



    Toyota chief was summoned to US Congress to apologize. Although Department of Transportation later found no evidence of most of the claims.


     


     


    Akio Toyoda was not summoned to apologize. He was summoned to answer questions. But it is a Japanese custom for business heads to make such public apologies too. So this is what he did in front of the House Committee conducting the investigating the incidents involving Toyota cars. This is also a tradition of Korean businesses. AFAIK, this is NOT a tradition of Chinese businesses. In part, this is because most (all?) Chinese businesses are at least partly state-owned. 

  • Reply 19 of 44
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,425member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    Suck it up. Move on. It's the right thing to do, given the law in this situation, the culture, and the importance of the country both as a supplier and as a market. Getting caught up in cheap ego issues is not worth it.



     


    You know what. Even though I criticized Apple yesterday, I agree with you that this is the best move for Apple, from a business perspective, and sometimes you just have to suck it up, even though you know that what you are doing is pathetic when dealing with certain alien cultures and extremely authoritarian regimes.


     


    So while I agree that this is probably the right thing for Apple to do, I still think that China's government is complete crap, bordering on evil, and I don't think that people should refrain from criticizing them.

  • Reply 20 of 44
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,425member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

    I'm a pro-American liberal. I think America sucks... except when compared to everyone else. 


     


    Don't worry. With the way that things are going, we'll soon be like everybody else, which really sucks.image

Sign In or Register to comment.