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Apple's App Store steps into line to comply with Chinese regulations

The company has previously come under fire for the Chinese government, but it appears it's ready to play ball
Apple's App Store steps into line to comply with Chinese regulations
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Apple and China have historically had something of a unique relationship. China's longstanding ban on Google Play has given Apple's App Store a significant advantage in the world's biggest mobile gaming market. Apple dominates China's high-end smartphone market, and in turn China represents 19% of Apple's annual revenue, making it the company's third largest market.

However, the relationship between Apple and China has been souring in recent weeks, with China banning the use of Apple devices for work purposes among government officials, followed by miHoYo and NetEase blocking Alipay payments on iOS devices. Finally, while the Cyberspace Administration of China identified 26 app stores complying with its newest regulatory changes requiring app developers to submit an internet content provider filing (ICP) before publishing their products, the App Store wasn't among them.

Now, it appears that Apple is playing ball, as it has now implemented a requirement for apps to provide evidence that they have received a license from the Chinese government before being released on the App Store in the country.

ICP filings are necessary for websites to operate in China, and most local app stores have required them since 2017. For international companies, developers need to either have a presence in China or work with local publishers. Apple's ICP policy has historically been relatively lenient, contributing to the platform's popularity in China.

With that in mind, complying with regulators could impact the availability of numerous foreign apps in China, as well as result in Apple seeing a decreased market share should its app offerings fall in line with competitors.

Notably, some Chinese iPhone users have taken to X (formerly Twitter) with their concerns that they would need to resort to using foreign Apple accounts to access their favourite apps.

Will this be enough to fix relations between China and Apple? That remains to be seen, however it appears that Apple is doing whatever it deems necessary to maintain its business interests in China, even if that means bringing itself in line with competitors.

Last month saw the release of the iPhone 15, with a slate of features designed with gaming in mind.