Date
19 January 2017
Apple is not expected to lose much from not being able to operate iTune Movies in China. In fact, it can diversify its viewers by selling politically sensitive movies such as Ten Years (pictured), which is banned by Beijing. Photo: YouTube
Apple is not expected to lose much from not being able to operate iTune Movies in China. In fact, it can diversify its viewers by selling politically sensitive movies such as Ten Years (pictured), which is banned by Beijing. Photo: YouTube

Why should Apple make Ten Years available on iTunes?

It is never too late to change our future, or so says the award-winning movie Ten Years.

Likewise, it is never too late to watch this controversial movie, which, ironically, is not shown in local cinemas despite the popular demand.

Fortunately, the new-wave movie, which shows the bleak future that awaits Hong Kong under Beijing’s total rule, has come up with a new distribution, with Google taking the lead to make it available for its android users at Play Store.

Then Apple followed suit. Ten Years will be available on iTunes Movies starting today.

The two technology giants have the same pricing.  It costs HK$28 for a 48-hour rental, and for the high-definition version, you have to fork out HK$38.

That raises an interesting question: Why would Apple do that?

Over the last decade, Apple and Google have had very different fates in China.

Thanks to iPhone, China has become the biggest market for Apple – and we shall see if this is still the case next Tuesday when the company announces its latest quarterly result.

In contrast, Google was completely blocked in China. Google established its China unit in 2005, but pulled out from the market in 2010 after it rejected requests by Chinese authorities for the censorship of searches.

So it is easy to see why Google is willing to put Ten Years on its shelves despite knowing that Chinese authorities are very sensitive to the ideology being promoted throughout this movie.

Google has nothing to lose in China. But what about Apple?

Well, it has been blocked since two weeks ago in China.

According to the New York Times, its Apple’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movies were shut down just six months after they were launched in the country.

That’s a bit strange because Apple apparently got Beijing’s blessings to operate last year, but then the two units were suddenly asked to close shop by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, according to the New York Times report.

So what happened to Google before is now happening to Apple.

Unlike the New York Times, which was blocked in China after it published a story that offended the Chinese leadership, it’s not clear if and how Apple has stepped on the toes of some sensitive Communist cadre.

There’s no news if a particular book or movie had to be taken out from iTunes, which is an essential companion to iPhone.

Therefore, we tend to believe the blockage was not because of Ten Years. Rather, we think Apple was blocked so it could not put Ten Years on its shelves. 

On the positive side, Apple was allowed to launch Apple Pay in China to directly compete with the two local giants – Alibaba and Tencent – that dominate the online payment gateway.

That made people wonder if Apple Pay is just too successful in China.

The stake for Apple has never been higher in China. The latest iPhone SE, the cheapest ever of the iconic brand, was launched in China last month, and iPhone 7 should be standing next in line.

We would rather not speculate too much on what will happen to Apple and its famous products, which have conquered the hearts of millions of young Chinese.

But we will give the tech giant 10 years to prove its worth in China.

[Go to iTunes]

– Contact us at [email protected]

BK/JP/CG

EJ Insight writer

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