After a few months of quiet about the subject, and an explicit denial by China regulators in September, there are new reports circulating that China’s ban on the iPhone is back on — and expanding.
A report on Friday evening claims that the iPhone ban inside China’s governmental halls has reared up again, or still, depending on which reports you believe. The report, by Bloomberg claims that state firms and government offices across at least eight provinces are telling employees to start carrying local brands, and not the iPhone, or phones from Samsung.
Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the ban is said to be a “major step-up” from September.
The report itself leaves some wiggle room for interpretation.
“It’s unclear how many government agencies precisely have issued directives, nor how widespread they’ve been,” Bloomberg reports on Friday. “Different organizations will likely vary in how zealously they enforce internal edicts, with some forbidding Apple devices from the workplace and others barring their use entirely.”
The saga, with contradictions from both media and the Chinese government started just before the iPhone 15 launched. In early September, the roller coaster launched, with rumors of a potential China sales ban circulating amongst major media outlets.
Early discussions of the matter included not just a ban on Apple’s iPhone in the halls of government, but on the local level as well. They went so far as to claim that China’s largest carrier, China Mobile, wouldn’t carry the iPhone 15.
Regarding iPhone 15 sales in China, Apple CEO Tim Cook’s commentary regarding sales in the country was more clear than normal. In Apple’s quarter ending in October, sales in China were down by 2%, which Cook directly blamed on Mac sales in decline in the country.
In the call’s analyst question and answer session, Cook said that the iPhone 15 Pro was doing very well in China.
The accuracy of September’s reports, and the new one on Friday evening is questionable given the nature of reports out of China on matters such as this. The impact on Apple’s stock price is clear, though.
As happened before, Apple stock took a hit on the news. AAPL closed at 197.57. It immediately took a dive of about a dollar after Bloomberg‘s report, and is presently at 196.50 in after-hours trading.
This likely isn’t the end of the saga. The United States has banned Chinese brand Huawei form sale over security concerns, so the back and forth will likely continue between the countries as Apple sits in the middle.