Is it true that Apple will be forced to ban social networks from the App Store in China?

A Applea technology giant, faces a new hurdle in its relationship with China as recent Chinese government regulations threaten the availability of foreign apps in the iPhone App Store.

It turns out that the Chinese government has instructed Apple to strictly enforce rules banning unregistered foreign apps, closing a loophole that allowed access to popular Western social media apps such as Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), FacebookYouTube and WhatsApp, through VPNs (Virtual Private Networks).

Image: nikkimeel,Shutterstock/Reproduction

Impact on foreign applications

This decision will drastically affect the supply of these applications in China from July onwards, unless the operators of these platforms are registered with the Chinese government, in accordance with the new rules of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China. China.

However, compliance with these registration requirements may involve data transfer and censorship obligations, making it unlikely that many foreign companies will register.

Applications like Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp have been widely used in China, with Sensor Tower estimates indicating more than 170 million downloads over the last decade.

These applications allowed Chinese users to connect with the outside world despite China’s Great Firewall, which imposes severe restrictions on the internet.

Apple’s stance and business

To date, Apple has not issued public statements regarding these new regulations. However, this poses a significant threat to Apple’s services business in China, a vital market for the company.

China accounts for about a fifth of Apple’s sales and is its main manufacturing base. Therefore, the technology giant has already had to adapt to increasing censorship and strict data security regulations imposed by the Chinese government.

Apple has in the past removed apps from its store in China under government guidelines, including several apps and games in 2020 during an official crackdown on software without government license.

Outlook for Apple in China

This situation highlights the growing risks Apple faces in China. In this regard, some investors have expressed significant concerns. This is the case of David Wagner, portfolio manager at Aptus Capital Advisors, stated:

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“China is my biggest concern for Apple.”

While Apple will likely follow new rules imposed by the Chinese government, the App Store in China is expected to become increasingly made up of Chinese apps, with a smaller number of applications international available.

Reflections on the application industry

This move is seen by industry observers as an extension of the registration system called the Internet Content Provider (ICP), required for websites to operate legally in China.

Last year, China’s top internet watchdog began requiring app stores to submit details of their businesses and review apps and developers before publishing them.

Apple was not among the 26 app stores that had gone through this registration process until recently. The situation is constantly developing and will be closely watched by investors and technology enthusiasts around the world.

As Apple navigates these turbulent regulatory waters in China, uncertainty looms over the future of foreign app availability in China. App Store and the impact on relations between the technology giant and the Chinese government.