President Trump’s WeChat ban could impact iPhone sales in China

U.S. President Donald Trump’s order banning U.S. companies from doing business with Chinese messaging app WeChat could impact Apple’s iPhone sales in China.

WeChat on iPhone
WeChat on iPhone

The order would block all transactions involving WeChat, which would prohibit Apple from distributing WeChat, an app that’s currently central to digital life in China, to mobile devices through its App Store.

Gerrit De Vynck for Bloomberg News:

It’s the go-to app for a billion people for shopping, payments, email, web browsing and all forms of business and personal communications. Many Chinese don’t use phone numbers or emails. Visitors to the country have to download the app and load it with money or risk not being able to pay for even small purchases.

MacDailyNews Take: Perhaps WeChat is relied upon a bit too much in China?

China accounts for about 20% of Apple’s iPhone sales, so pulling WeChat off the App Store “would be a serious hindrance,” said Anand Srinivasan, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. Trump’s order could also prompt China to retaliate, damaging Apple even further. Much of the Cupertino, California-based company’s manufacturing is done in China, and if the country targets Apple’s exports that would impact its business globally, Srinivasan said. China could also restrict the supply of materials, such as rare earth metals, that are key ingredients of iPhones.

MacDailyNews Take: As De Vynck went on to write, “Trump’s executive order goes into effect in 45 days, but there are many outstanding questions and plenty could happen between now and then.”

23 Comments

  1. Apple will find a way to provide WeChat access to Chinese iPhone users. It is imperative that they do, or they will lose big time in the Chinese market.

    1. Big time as in zero sales. The TenCent applications are absolutely indispensable for day to day life in China. A smartphone that could not run them would be an absolute nonstarter for residents and even visitors to the PRC. Even if there were no retaliation by the Chinese government, the US ban could kill 20% of Apple’s worldwide sales.

    2. Yes, people don’t understand that in China WeChat is huge, far bigger than Facebook. One analyst noted that in China every smartphone can be thought of as a WeChat device.

      No WeChat, no sale.

  2. It also wouldn’t be good for Foxconn as they rely on Apple for a lot of product assembly and employment. I suppose these sort of things happen when you rely on international sales. I wonder if many Chinese smartphone users would be happy about not being able to use their iPhones and WeChat. It’s just crazy. Of course, iPhone users could jailbreak their device and sideload WeChat but I suppose most iPhone users wouldn’t go that far. POTUS seems to be getting in Apple’s way quite a bit.

    1. That’s the impression I had. They simply wouldn’t be able to download the app in the US, but all would remain the same while in China. I may be wrong, though.

      1. The ban applies to all US businesses. The Chinese App Store is 100% owned by an American corporation.

        The language of the Executive Orders might even apply secondary sanctions—prohibiting US firms from doing business with third-country firms that do business with the banned Chinese firms. As noted above, it is simply impossible to live or work in China without WeChat.

        It is the threat of secondary sanctions that forced the UK into banning Huawei. The “Clean Internet” concept announced this week by Secretary of State Pompeo looks directed as restricting the use of any Chinese software outside China.

      1. Agreed.
        I’m an Apple user since the SE, no not the iPhone, and investor in appl since 1999. I am loyal to Apple. Used to co-own an Apple VAR business. But I am all for this. No matter how much pain it causes Apple.

        1. Good to read a thoughtful reply reflecting reality. 👍🏻

          I purchased the SE iPhone on launch day 2016 and now typing this reply, still going strong.

          While my staff worked on SE30s my first personal Mac purchase was the MacIIFX with a cost over $8,000.

          Hard to believe compared to today…

      2. Trump is just mad at China because they said no to helping him make up dirt on Biden. You are delusional if you think he is doing it for the betterment of the United States.
        Trump also needs a fall guy before the election for his utter incompetence in his handling of the COVID virus.

        1. C19 President Trump incompetence?

          Are you referring to uber partisan detractor Nancy Pelosi when she said the “Trump disease”?

          You have no “facts” just blind partisanship denigrating opinions like the rest of your ilk. Nuff said…

  3. this is probably a dumb question. i’m not a software engineer but since the chinese government mandates a ccp right of access to the intellectual property of chinese owned businesses or all business, including their software code, could there not be an open source equivalent to wechat so any backdoors providing a malicious government purpose of data gathering would be evident to users. or whatever, maybe, the ccp just wouldn’t allow any open source projects that would circumvent their purposes to surveil.

  4. Apple follows local law. If Chinese law says that the Chinese App Store cannot offer an app that the government has disapproved, that is the end of the discussion. Either Apple complies or it faces a complete shutdown of its facilities and the “re-education” of all its Chinese employees. You might think that price is worth paying, but you aren’t the one facing years of hard time.

    1. Over and over again, right on queue the número uno Cook APOLOGIST for China operations is making excuses, AGAIN.

      Not only are you dead wrong, just like Cook you are a liberal hypocrite. Cook’s SJW crusade only applies to the USA, do you understand, or do I need to repeat?

      “Apple follows local law.”

      YES. Suppressed Communist Chinese Law — OBEDIENTLY! 🙄

      “If Chinese law says that the Chinese App Store cannot offer an app that the government has disapproved, that is the end of the discussion.”

      NO! NO! NO! That is the ultimate BEGINNING of “discussion” sycophant apologist. You are giving a PASS to Apple for accepting CENSORSHIP?

      Consenting to China CENSORSHIP in the holy name of the almighty dollar is cowardly Chinese capitulation by Apple. Do you understand? Let me repeat, do you understand?

      “Either Apple complies or it faces a complete shutdown of its facilities”

      Apple with no assistance from the Chinese should institute “a complete shutdown of its facilities” and move the hell out of China as quickly as possible!

      Other major tech companies have already done so moving to India and elsewhere while others are considering it.

      “re-education” of all its Chinese employees.”

      Re-education of TxUseless for his red herrings is more important.

      BOTTON LINE: Why is it you continue to support Communist ABUSIVE control of its citizens, CENSORSHIP of Apple apps and much more importantly — AGGRESSIVELY SUPPORT supply chain genius Tim Cook just looking the other way to make obscene profits?

      Whenever you are ready…

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