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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7893
JPY
USD
107.68
GBP
USD
0.6238
CAD
USD
1.1214
INR
USD
61.185

Rates may not be current.