China Shuts Down iBooks and iMovies

China Shuts Down iBooks and iMovies
Photo Credit: Wang Lei / Xinhua Press / Corbis / 達志影像

Apple’s iBooks and iMovies have been shut down in China.

Rumors first broke out when users on Weibo reported the services were inaccessible.

Apple released a statement saying its hopes, “to make books and movies available again to our customers in China as soon as possible.”

New York Times reported that China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television was behind the shutdown.

The news follows optimism of a “great working relationship” between the company and China since 2013. Apple released its iBook, iMovie, and Apple Music in China last November.

Since then, Apple CEO Tim Cook made several visits to the country to help boost its presence. Now the second-largest market after the United States, China is a key target for Apple to expand.

The most recent release was two months ago when Apple released Apple Pay to jump into the mobile payment market currently dominated by local brands such as Tencent and Alibaba.

Two days after news of the shutdown broke, local tech leaders including Jack Ma of Alibaba and Ren Zhengfei of Huawei coincidentally met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss China’s internet policies. The meeting set off speculation that the government is trying to limit Apple’s influence in the market.

Daniel Rosen of the Rhodium Group speculates the Chinese government is “interested in protecting the content that the Chinese people see," which included “favoring indigenous giants such as Huawei, Alibaba, and Tencent."

Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations about how American companies commit espionage, is thought to have influenced China to be increasingly wary of foreign investment. Since then, the Chinese government identified eight American companies that it considered “too deeply established” to operate without heavy oversight. This resulted in  some companies being obligated to pay heavy fines and share their technology with local competitors. While Apple is one of the eight companies, the company had largely been left alone.

Edited by Edward White

The Verge
New York Times
Apple Insider
Apple Insider