BEIJING – Apple chief executive Tim Cook has apologised to Chinese consumers after the US technology giant was subjected to a barrage of criticism in state-run media over alleged “arrogance” and double standards.
China is Apple’s second-biggest market, and its iPhones and other products — many of them made in the country — are highly popular, although it faces fierce competition from South Korea’s Samsung.
State media, particularly the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, have carried a series of attacks on Apple over its customer service and returns policies, although some users expressed support for the company.
In a Chinese-language letter to “respected Chinese consumers” issued on the company’s website late Monday, Cook said Apple had “profoundly reflected on the opinions” expressed over its policies in the country.
“We realized that the lack of external communication during the process has led the outside world to think that Apple was arrogant and did not care or paid no attention to consumers’ feedback,” he said.
“We sincerely apologize for any concerns or misunderstanding this has caused to consumers.”
Cook, who took over as Apple’s CEO from founder Steve Jobs in August 2011, added that the firm would revise some warranty policies and had “many things we have to learn” in terms of operating and communicating in China.
“We have always respected China in an unparalleled manner and Chinese consumers have always been our priority among priorities,” said Cook.
The People’s Daily ran critical items for five consecutive days last week, at one point urging consumers to “strike away Apple’s unparalleled arrogance”, after condemnations on state broadcaster CCTV.
But users of China’s Twitter-like weibos were split, with some backing Apple and saying state-owned Chinese firms deserved more criticism for poor service.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment further on the letter Tuesday, saying: “Tim’s letter (has) a lot of information there and that is our official statement.”