• Apple Buckles to Chinese App Demands

    Apple has buckled to pressures from China and formally blocked any and all iPhone applications involving the Dalai Lama from reaching the Chinese App Store. As indicated in coverage by PC World on the matter, Apple is simply the "latest U.S. technology company to censor its services in China." Although many Apple fans at home and abroad are uncomfortable with Cupertino buckling to the demands of China, it seems business is business and China will get its way.

    At least five iPhone apps related to the Dalai Lama are unavailable in the China store. Some of those apps -- named Dalai Quotes, Dalai Lama Quotes and Dalai Lama Prayerwheel -- display inspirational quotes from the Tibetan spiritual leader. Another, Paging Dalai Lama, tells users where he is currently teaching. A fifth app, Nobel Laureates, contains information about Nobel Prize winners including the Dalai Lama.
    Apple, of course, is quick to point out that "not all apps are available in all countries." Still, it's obvious why apps related to the Dalai Lama are strictly prohibited in China. The Dalai Lama, after all, is an "exiled minority leader reviled by China's authorities." And while some may try to cushion the PR blow for Apple by postulating that many developers are to blame for certain apps not reaching China, the likely truth is that Apple is leading the charge to ensure that no apps, games, or other digital media unsavory to the Chinese government will reach Chinese consumers.

    "Given that Apple has cooperated with China before (by not distributing games), it's of course very likely that it's Apple, not the developers, that are preventing certain apps from appearing," said one China-based app developer, who asked not to be named, in an e-mail. Games were not sold in the China App Store before recent months.
    James Sugrue, who designed the Dalai Quotes app, tells PC World that he didn't even know his app had been pulled from the Chinese App Store, an interesting piece of evidence that suggests Apple stands behind the compliance demands of Chinese officials.

    Although millions find Apple's pandering unfortunate, Cupertino is in good company. Both Yahoo and Google have also yielded to the demands of Chinese officials who constantly endeavor to restrict access to "sensitive political issues" and other information that China simply doesn't want its citizens to have access to.

    Chinese authorities previously took aim at Apple last year during the Beijing Olympics, when the U.S. iTunes Music Store was blocked in China after it started selling a new collection of songs about Tibet. The U.S. iTunes Music Store and App Store are both currently accessible from Beijing.
    The largest mobile phone community on the planet has finally received the iPhone. But it appears that the political persuasions of the last half-century aren't about to change just to accommodate a free and viable App Store. For the sake of doing business with China, Apple seems more than willing to comply with the restrictive Chinese policies that many around the world simply find appalling.

    Image via PC World
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