Apple’s relationship with its large Chinese userbase has been fraught of late as the US government cuts ties with the Cupertino firm’s major Chinese tech partners. Compounding this, a number of China’s largest media groups who were slated to stream coverage of the iPhone 12 event this week dropped their broadcasts, seemingly without explanation.
On Tuesday, Apple hosted an online event with some big product releases and a production budget to match. Dusky timelapses set to music, 3D visuals to demo products with buzzwords like “computational audio,” and an impressive lifesize Ikea dollhouse were all on display.
It’s been reported, however, that viewers from China anticipating this launch were disappointed when a number of major Chinese social platforms dropped coverage of the event, seemingly without explanation.
Tension between Chinese firms and Apple has risen in the last few years, and recently the US president enacted an executive order that would prevent Apple from offering WeChat on its App Store. This app is lodged at the heart of social media in China, with over 1.2 billion monthly active users.
A recent Weibo poll of 1.2 million participants showed that 95 percent of Chinese users would give up their Apple device for another smartphone if it meant losing access to WeChat. Apple has pushed back against the White House, stating that this order will put serious financial strain on the tech giant.
Apple’s official WeChat account advertised its live event, quoting five streaming partners for the big day, including Youku, iQuiyi, Bilibili, Tencent Video, and Weibo. Reporters from Bloomberg followed up with representatives of the latter four firms for comment about the dropped coverage, but they did not respond.