This week, Chinese authorities imposed a ban on central government officials using iPhones, the Wall Street Journal first reported. Subsequently, Bloomberg sources added that the scope of the ban could be extended to state-owned companies. It has now become known that China Mobile, the largest Chinese mobile operator, will refuse to sell the iPhone 15 altogether, an analyst said Bloomberg Mark Gurman.
For Apple, China is the largest market, accounting for about a fifth of sales. Literally on the eve of the iPhone 15’s world premiere, the company must do something about officials’ ban on using its devices and generally defend itself “Resurgence of Chinese Nationalism”which encourages potential buyers to give up foreign gadgets voluntarily and strengthens the position of local brands.
This isn’t the first time Apple’s iPhone has become hostage to Washington and Beijing’s political games — in 2019, iPhone XR and XS sales in China fell sharply amid the unfolding trade war between the two countries. In 2021 and 2022 the manufacturer managed to recover from this setback, but it seems that this year things are getting really serious. The US government remains hostile to Huawei and ByteDance (the owner of TikTok), and anti-Apple sentiment is thriving on Chinese social media.
China Mobile’s refusal to sell the iPhone 15, which has not yet been officially confirmed, could pose a serious problem for Apple, although so far there is no evidence that the Chinese have really started making a massive switch from iPhone to local-brand smartphones. Ultimately, a total ban would be detrimental to China itself – Apple provides millions of jobs in the country and such a drastic decision would hit the local economy. China Mobile has officially denied any plans to withdraw the iPhone from sale, while Apple declined to comment.