Sorry Apple gets respect in China after tabloid trial

Tue Apr 2, 2013 5:52am EDT
 
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By Melanie Lee

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - With its rare apology, Apple Inc went from pariah to praiseworthy in the eyes of China's state-controlled media, a lesson for other foreign firms not to underestimate the speed and power of the government press.

After coming under near-daily media assault for the past two weeks and facing the threat of penalties from two Chinese government bureaus, Apple apologized to Chinese consumers on Monday for poor communication over its warranty policy and said it will change the terms for some of its iPhones sold in China.

Greater China is Apple's second-biggest and fastest-growing market, with sales up almost 40 percent to $6.8 billion in the final quarter of 2012.

The Chinese newspapers that threw brickbats at Apple a few days ago have since changed their tune.

"The company's apology letter has eased the situation, softening the tense relationship between Apple and the Chinese market ... Its reaction is worth respect compared with other American companies," wrote popular tabloid the Global Times, published by Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily.

The Foreign Ministry praised Apple for "conscientiously" responding to consumers' demands.

"We approve of what Apple said," spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing on Tuesday.

Only last week, the People's Daily issued a scathing editorial on Apple's return policy saying the popular smartphone maker was filled with "unparalleled arrogance".   Continued...

A visitor talks with a staff member at an Apple store in Beijing April 2, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon