Apple phones still sold in China despite ban

Shoppers check out the iPhone X at an Apple store in Beijing, China. (File/AP)
Updated 11 December 2018
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Apple phones still sold in China despite ban

  • Apple has recently been overtaken by other competitors in China
  • Apple's high prices leave their products out of reach for many users

BEIJING, China: Apple stores in China continued with business as usual Tuesday despite a court-ordered ban on iPhone sales, but the US tech giant faces a growing nationalist backlash over the US-sought arrest of a Huawei executive.
According to US chipmaker Qualcomm, which requested the ban, the Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court ordered four Apple subsidiaries to stop selling older models of the iPhone, including the 7, 7 Plus, 8, and 8 Plus.
But Apple stores contacted by AFP in Beijing, Shanghai and Fuzhou said they were still selling those older models — confirming a company statement that all remain available.
Sales staff at a Beijing Apple store said they had not yet received any internal notices about the court injunction on iPhone sales.
“If the ban is ultimately imposed, there will be no Apple products under 6,500 yuan ($940) in China,” noted Wang Xi, a senior market analyst at research firm IDC.
That would give Chinese smartphone brands, such as Huawei, “more opportunities in the high-end market,” he told AFP.
Qualcomm’s request to halt iPhone sales is part of a long-running patent dispute with Apple.
Separately, Apple is also the target of nationalist sentiment over the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer in Canada at the behest of the United States on alleged Iran sanctions violations.
The Chinese government has condemned the arrest and demanded her release.
Some Chinese netizens and companies have also turned against Apple.
“What if China banned Apple the way the US has banned Huawei?” wrote one user on Twitter-like Weibo in a post that garnered more than 500 likes. “What if Apple lost its manufacturing center in China?“
Leaked company documents announcing rewards for Huawei purchases and penalties for owning Apple products are also circulating on Chinese social media.
A tech firm based in southwestern China, Chengdu RYD Information Technology, said it would reward employees who bought Huawei products with subsidies in an internal notice that it later confirmed via its official WeChat account.
The Shanghai Nanchong Chamber of Commerce confirmed that it too was offering subsidies for Huawei smartphones, and that staff and executive members of the business group would “lose their positions” if found with Apple products.
It seems that “general sentiment is gradually turning to against Apple and support Huawei now,” due to recent events, such as Meng’s arrest and the US-China trade war, said Wang.
China is a crucial market for Apple, but is has been overtaken by Chinese competitors in recent years.
According to a 2018 financial report, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were together Apple’s third largest market by net sales, after the Americas and Europe.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook has also made regular visits to China, and has touted the company’s inroads in the Chinese market as well as its manufacturing there.
But Apple’s premium-priced products remain out of reach for many users, increasing the appeal of more affordable phones produced by local companies.
Apple has the fifth largest market share in China, trailing behind Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi, according to data from IDC.
Qualcomm, the leading supplier of chips for mobile devices, serves several Apple competitors in China, including Huawei, and has been in a prolonged legal battle with Apple in recent years.
Apple has claimed that Qualcomm is abusing its market power over certain mobile chipsets in order to demand unfair royalties, joining a string of antitrust actions against the chipmaker.
Qualcomm has countersued Apple and earlier this year escalated its legal fight, claiming the iPhone maker stole trade secrets and shared them with mobile chip rival Intel.
According to Qualcomm’s US lawsuit, Apple’s goal was to buy mobile chips from Intel instead of depending on Qualcomm.
An Apple statement to AFP called Qualcomm’s effort to ban iPhone sales in China a “desperate move by a company whose illegal practices are under investigation by regulators around the world,” and added that “we will pursue all our legal options through the courts.”


Selling sketches and clothes, Libyan women set up businesses against the odds

Updated 25 June 2019
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Selling sketches and clothes, Libyan women set up businesses against the odds

  • Libya has only a tiny private sector and the economy is dominated by the state
  • Cumulative inflation over the last four years has seen real incomes lose more than half of their purchasing power

TRIPOLI: When inflation began eating into her state-paid salary Libyan architect and assistant professor Seham Saleh started selling drawings over the Internet to help pay the bills.
She joins a growing number of Libyan women launching start-ups in the conservative Arab country, where many still think a woman’s place is in the home but where the strains on personal and family income following years’ of political chaos have forced women to look for more work.
Libya has only a tiny private sector, which means there is a market for locally-produced goods. The economy is dominated by the state, which employs most adults under a structure set up by Muammar Qaddafi, who was toppled in 2011.
Men are the traditional breadwinners, although around 30 percent of women were in the labor force as of 2015, according to a UN report.
“I cannot live on my assistant professor salary of 1,000 dinars ($256) even if it is paid out,” said Saleh. She has been selling drawings of people in Libyan dress or book marks she created on a computer.
“Thank God... people wanted to buy the products,” she said. She also does freelance work as an architect.
Once one of the richest countries in the region, the chaos and civil war that ensued after the fall of Qaddafi has seen Libya’s living standards erode. Little is now produced in Libya other than oil, even milk is imported from Europe.
Cumulative inflation over the last four years has seen real incomes lose more than half of their purchasing power, and the government effectively devalued the dinar last September.
A cash crisis means public servants often do not get their salaries paid out in full. Lenders have no cash deposits as the rich prefer to hold their cash themselves, rather than deposit it in a bank.
Women rarely had jobs outside of sectors such as teaching, although the need for more family income has changed the situation, said Jasmin Khoja, head of a women’s business support venture.
Her organization, the Jusoor center for studies and development, has trained some 33 would-be female entrepreneurs, offers legal advice and office space as women often can’t afford their own.
While Seham’s “Naksha” art business is in its early stages, others such as Najwa Shoukri’s start-up are growing fast. She started designing clothes from home in 2016, and selling them online.
Now, together with five other women, she has a workshop selling 50 pieces a month and plans to open a shop next year on Jaraba Street, the main fashion shopping avenue in Tripoli.
To make the shop a success her output would have to rise to 150 pieces a month. Her brother and family have contributed to investments worth 10,000 dinars.
The biggest challenges for start-ups are legal hurdles and the lack of electronic payment systems.
Some Libyan commercial laws go back to the 1960s and are aimed at big corporations such as oil firms, not start-ups. Under these regulations firms need to deposit thousands of dinars.
“Banks do not give loans, which stops projects and makes them unable to grow or employ other women and young people,” Khoja said.
Undeterred, Mayaz Elahshmi started a business last week training women to fix computers and smartphones.
“There is big demand as many women are reluctant to go to a phone shop where men work, as they have personal files on their phones.”
Six people came to her first training session, each paying 30 dinars.