Regulator Shuts Down Apple’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movies in China

Apple’s iBook Store and iTunes Movies have become unavailable in China, after Beijing last month imposed stricter regulations on online publishing, particularly for foreign firms (via the New York Times).

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The services have been shut down after China’s media regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television, asked Apple to do so. The iBook Store and iTunes Movies had been available for just six months, as Apple had Chinese government approval to launch the services.

However, this wasn’t enough, so the media regulator has demanded that Apple shut down the services, according to two people speaking with the New York Times.

That’s rather interesting and could signal “trouble in paradise”, as Apple has so far enjoyed the support of the Chinese government: Unlike many American tech companies, Apple has introduced new products and, more recently, Apple Pay. Now, if Apple faces resistance from the Chinese government, restriction of these new products and services could potentially hurt the company.

As the NYT points out, after the shutdown of Apple’s aforementioned services, President Xi Jinping of China conducted a meeting on China’s restrictive Internet policies with China’s top tech leaders.

It is worth adding that the services the Chinese regulator asked Apple to shut down were competing with services offered by local companies. The New York Times article, however, notes that China’s tough move against foreign tech companies such as Apple could have serious consequences for the Chinese economy, especially if the government goes after Apple Pay (for example), which competes directly with services offered by Alibaba and Tencent:

“As surely as the tremendous welfare gains for China and its people from deepening links to global tech production, disassembling those connections is likely to entail a heavy economic loss,” said Daniel H. Rosen, founding partner of Rhodium Group, a New-York based advisory firm specializing in the Chinese economy.