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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7866
JPY
USD
109.25
GBP
USD
0.6139
CAD
USD
1.1120
INR
USD
61.428

Rates may not be current.