China's state-owned newspaper People's Daily launched a week-long editorial lashing out at Apple's discriminatory policies and arrogant treatment of Chinese consumers.
The first article titled "Apple bit 'God'"--in reference to a Chinese idiom which states "customers are God"--was published in the Chinese-language paper on March 25 criticized the tech giant's discriminatory acts toward Chinese iPhone users with regard to its after-sales service policy.
Over four days through to March 29, the newspaper published four more articles or commentaries on Apple which were also picked up by other local media, titled "What has Apple been doing wrong", "Apple must fix unparalleled arrogance", "Apple avoided taxes totaling billions of dollars a year", as well as "Changes to Apple's maintenance warranty only superficial".
Earlier on March 15, which was World Consumer Rights Day, the country's state-owned TV broadcaster China Central Television Station (CCTV) had alleged that when Chinese consumers sent in their defective iPhones, they only get a refurbished iPhone with the back cover from the original phone. In comparison, consumers in other countries will receive a refurbished iPhone. Chinese consumers will need to pay an extra 580 yuan (US$92) if it prefers a new cover, according to the report.
In a immediate reply to the reports, Apple simply said the team had been "working to surpass the expectations of consumers, and highly values the opinions and suggestions from every consumer". In a later statement, the American company said its warranty policy was "higher than the national standard". People's Daily denounced Apple's response to the problems in a "self-praise" way.
On March 28, U.S.-based People's Daily reporter Chen Yiming also published a storyon the newspaper stating he had been trying to interview Apple's headquarter on the issue, but had been blocked by the company's Chinese and U.S. public relations representatives.
It is rare for a Chinese government-backed newspaper to focus on one single company in consecutive editorials that span almost a week. An opinion piece by Sina.com questioned if People's Daily heavy focus on Apple's indifference toward Chinese consumers put the American company's China footprint in crisis. The report recalled that when CCTV 12 years ago slammed Toshiba for its discriminatory acts regarding laptop maintainance involving Chinese consumers, Toshiba's market share dropped out of the top 10 in China after topping the market for consecutive four years.
Five years ago, after CCTV's reports on Hewlett-Packard's laptop quality issues, the IT vendor's market shares also slumped from the then-16.6 percent to 5 percent.
In a reply to Chinese newspaper The Beijing News, Apple's Beijing-based spokesperson said there were now conference calls between the company's local and Cupertino headquarter everyday. "We might not even release a statement [to media reports] in the past [but would now do so]. We are trying to make changes," said the spokesperson.