News / Economy

Apple CEO Apologizes to Chinese Consumers, Revamps Service

FILE - People walk past the Apple logo near an Apple Store at a shopping area in central Beijing, February 19, 2013.
FILE - People walk past the Apple logo near an Apple Store at a shopping area in central Beijing, February 19, 2013.
Reuters
Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook apologized to Chinese consumers on Monday and altered iPhone warranty policies in its number two market after more than two weeks of condemnation of its after-sales service in the state-run media.

From China Central Television to the People's Daily newspaper, government-controlled media outlets bashed the world's largest technology corporation for its "arrogance," protesting among other things that its current one-year service warranty was far shorter than in other smaller markets.

Apple, which initially dismissed those criticisms, on Monday promised to overhaul its consumer practices. Cook has previously said the world's second-largest economy is a crucial market for the iPad-maker.

FILE - Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple event in San Francisco, Sept. 12, 2012.FILE - Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple event in San Francisco, Sept. 12, 2012.
x
FILE - Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple event in San Francisco, Sept. 12, 2012.
FILE - Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple event in San Francisco, Sept. 12, 2012.
"We are aware that owing to insufficient external communication, some consider Apple's attitude to be arrogant, inattentive or indifferent to consumer feedback," Cook said in a letter written in Chinese on the company's local website. "We express our sincere apologies for causing consumers any misgivings or misunderstanding."

Cook's apology, unusual though not as rare as during his predecessor Steve Jobs' tenure, highlights the importance of the market for Apple.

The country is typically the brightest spot in Apple's quarterly financial statements. Revenue from greater China - which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong - totalled $7.3 billion in its fiscal first quarter, up 60 percent from a year ago.

Apple will begin detailing quarterly sales results from the region starting this month.

'Much to Learn'

Cook also said in the lengthy letter that Apple has "much to learn about operating and communicating in China."

China has long been a prime market for Western corporations hoping to capitalize on its growing economic power and increasingly affluent middle-class. Still, companies face many pitfalls operating in the country.

A customer show his new iPhone 4S after making the purchase at Apple's retail store in downtown Shanghai, January 13, 2012.A customer show his new iPhone 4S after making the purchase at Apple's retail store in downtown Shanghai, January 13, 2012.
x
A customer show his new iPhone 4S after making the purchase at Apple's retail store in downtown Shanghai, January 13, 2012.
A customer show his new iPhone 4S after making the purchase at Apple's retail store in downtown Shanghai, January 13, 2012.
Since it joined the World Trade Organization and opened up its markets, many have run afoul of perplexing and sometimes arbitrary local regulations, notoriously fickle consumer sentiment - and occasionally capricious media coverage. Regardless, many corporations view the country as prime expansion territory as growth slows in the developed world.

Apple is hardly the first Western brand-name to come under fire in the media for a variety of real or perceived missteps, or the first to alter its policies.

KFC parent Yum Inc issued a mea culpa in January for its handling of reports that chicken from some of its suppliers contained excess amounts of drugs and hormones. It subsequently outlined how it would improve food safety and quality control.

In the case of Apple, its iPhones, iPods and computers are considered aspirational products in China with cache among the countries growing middle class.

Successful foreign brands like Wal-Mart Stores and Gucci have also come under fire for various product and labor issues.

Criticism of Apple began on March 15 with the broadcast of an annual show on CCTV about consumer safety and rights, which has become an annual ritual targeting foreign, along with Chinese consumer firms.

The program assailed Apple for its after-sales service, including Apple's failure to offer new replacement iPhones with a one-year warranty in the case of major repairs.

Now, Apple will offer full replacements of iPhone 4 and 4S instead of major repairs, adding a one-year warranty starting from the date of replacement.

It will provide simpler and clearer explanations of warranties on its website and allow customers to offer feedback directly, Cook said. The company will also provide refresher training to service providers to explain the new warranty policy, he added.

The iPhone 5, the latest model, already carries a similar warranty to the new iPhone 4 and 4S coverage.

CCTV's show this year became the subject of online ridicule over claims the network paid celebrities to post micro-blog comments against Apple. Thousands of Chinese have come to its defense online, criticizing Chinese firms as being the ones that lack transparency and consumer trust.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8836
JPY
USD
118.88
GBP
USD
0.6451
CAD
USD
1.2469
INR
USD
61.751

Rates may not be current.