Apple iPhone sales in China are in danger of plummeting after the U.S. government issued an order preventing companies from doing business with WeChat.
As if the COVID-19 issues in the U.S. are not big enough, the U.S. government is cracking down on something else. It wants anything related to China out of its soil. Its main target is Chinese apps that are sitting ducks waiting to be shut out of the market.
The players involved in this politics game aren’t pushovers. Apple takes front and center in the U.S., while Tencent’s WeChat in China. They are both at an impasse, and they can’t do anything about it. The U.S. government is within its power to prevent any U.S. company from transacting business with a potentially hostile company.
However, what the U.S. government doesn’t realize is that its order is a double-edged sword.
Apple iPhone could lose the Chinese market
At face value, Apple seems to be in control of the situation. The government wants WeChat out of its AppStore, so Apple has to unpublish the app. Unfortunately, the reality is not that simple. Unpublishing the app means alienating Apple’s biggest market outside of the United States.
It’s Chinese market relies on WeChat for its life. It is where almost all Chinese citizens communicate with each other. WeChat essentially is the internet for China. In just one app, they can hail a cab, transfer money, do video calls, and many more. In other words, removing the app from AppStore means rendering iPhones useless in China.
Essentially, Apple is on the losing end of this executive order by President Trump. Yes, it’s national security problem is solved. However, on the flip side, the U.S. will have to face the economic impact of losing Apple’s enormous market in China.
China will move forward
In the scenario that Apple indeed unpublishes WeChat from its platform, the Chinese market has other options for its smartphones. Should it want to continue using its iPhones, it will have to jailbreak and circumvent the app ban. Unfortunately, that isn’t a simple task to do, especially for a regular phone user.
Instead of staying with Apple, what could most likely happen is an exodus. When the U.S. started its crackdown on Huawei, it just started a nationalistic cry in China to support its brand. As such, Huawei has seen historical growth in its smartphone sales despite the pandemic. There isn’t a similar ban on WeChat on Huawei’s App Gallery.
Therefore, China can move forward without Apple.
Image used courtesy of Hadrian/Shutterstock