China poses a triple threat to Apple. First, the escalating trade war between the US and China… Second, China could, at the stroke of a pen, announce changes that hurt Apple’s sales in the country or impair its manufacturing operations. Just ask the NBA. Third, even if neither of these things come to pass, the PR hit Apple is taking from being seen to surrender to unreasonable demands from a country with a poor record on human rights is only going to get worse… Reputational damage is a very dangerous thing: just ask Activision Blizzard…
Apple can’t act overnight. As we’ve noted before, moving production out of China would be a Herculean undertaking… Apple is working on this, with new manufacturing plants in India, Vietnam, Indonesia and elsewhere. But my view is that it probably needs to accelerate these efforts such that it could, if necessary, abandon China as a manufacturing base altogether.
Anything could happen, but right now the smart money isn’t on Apple’s relationship with China getting better. The company needs to be prepared for the worst – even if that means sacrificing sales there.
MacDailyNews Take: There exists a dichotomy that screams hypocrisy that is impossible to overlook:
Apple CEO Tim Cook, winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ 2015 Ripple of Hope Award for “his lifelong commitment to human rights,” who subsequently took a place on the board Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights the following year, and winner of Newseum’s 2017 Free Expression Award in the Free Speech category, no less also aids and abets China’s commitment to violating human rights with serial regularity.
Two phrases immediately spring to mind:
• Do as I say, not as I do.
• Talking the talk, but not walking the walk.
Accepting awards, plaudits, and board positions for “free speech” and “human rights” while banning publications and protest apps are tough actions to reconcile due to their diametrically opposed nature.
For how long can Tim Cook, and by extension, Apple, get away with positioning themselves as the world’s white knight while kowtowing to every whim of the Chinese authoritarian socialist censors?
This is about leadership, or lack thereof.
Obviously, in recent days, this all seems to be coming to a head, but it’s been building for years.
• Apple removes Quartz news app from App Store in China over Hong Kong coverage – October 10, 2019
• Apple kowtows to China by censoring Taiwan flag emoji – October 7, 2019
• Apple Music censors songs in China that reference Tiananmen massacre, democracy – April 9, 2019
• Apple removes VPN apps from China App Store – July 29, 2017
• In bid to improve censorship, China to summon Apple execs to discuss stricter App Store oversight – April 20, 2017
• Apple removes New York Times apps from App Store in China at behest of Chinese government – January 4, 2017
China is critical for Apple in every way from sales to product assembly, so Apple continues to kowtow to China. With Apple’s strong stance – in other places of the world – on users’ rights and privacy, it’s a bad look for the company and a tough tightrope that Tim Cook — [winner of Newseum’s 2017 Free Expression Award in the Free Speech category, no less] — is trying to walk. — MacDailyNews, July 29, 2017
• It’s about finding your values, and committing to them. It’s about finding your North Star. It’s about making choices. Some are easy. Some are hard. And some will make you question everything. — Tim Cook
• You don’t have to choose between doing good and doing well. It’s a false choice, today more than ever. — Tim Cook
• You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change. — Tim Cook
• There are times in all of our lives when a reliance on gut or intuition just seems more appropriate — when a particular course of action just feels right. And interestingly I’ve discovered it’s in facing life’s most important decisions that intuition seems the most indispensable to getting it right. — Tim Cook
• For some things where we… [have] a strong point of view, we’re not shy. We’ll stand up, speak out – even when our voice shakes. — Tim Cook
• The most important thing is, Do you have the courage to admit that you’re wrong? And do you change? The most important thing to me as a CEO is that we keep the courage. — Tim Cook
— South Park (@SouthPark) October 10, 2019