On March 22, before the foreign media or Apple themselves seemed to have grasped the seriousness of the CCTV attacks on the Californian behemoth, I wrote a post on Danwei.com that concluded:
“The signs are clear that regulators and establishment media would both be happy for foreign mobile phone handsets and operating systems to lose market share. This should be remembered by anyone betting on Apple as a China play, including CEO Tim Cook who earlier this year told Xinhua News Agency that he believes China will become Apple’s largest market.”
The second sentence explains why Apple needed to apologize: China is the major part of their growth plans, and they need to do everything they can to stop hostile attitudes towards their company and products from the Chinese government and official media. I don’t think Chinese consumers are very upset about the problems CCTV exposed, but the government could very easily make Apple’s China dreams impossible to realize
If Apple does not act contrite, there are thousands of other issues that CCTV or other state actors could attack them on, starting with the apps and content on their iTunes store: To this day the iTunes is the greatest Trojan horse of foreign content that any foreign media or tech company has managed to sneak into the People’s Republic without serious scrutiny.
Despite the apology, I expect Apple will continue to meet hostility from official organs in the coming years - their government and public relations teams are going to have to earn their keep.