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Apple and China struck a secret (not so secret now) deal: What’s in it?

(TECHNOLOGY) A report uncovered a $275B agreement struck between Tim Cook from Apple and officials from China. What is the fine print?

Apple logo on dollar bills representing China deal

If you’re an Apple fan boy, you might want to take a seat. I don’t want you to get dizzy and collapse from the cognitive dissonance you’re bound to feel from this information.

Apple and China struck a secret deal back in 2016 with internal documents and unnamed sources being leaked this month from The Information. I could probably just stop here because we all know secrets are bad news. If you need further proof, Elizabeth, the stripper from the hit TV show The Office, imparts some healthy advice that Apple should heed: “Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone.”

According to The Information, the $275 billion dollar deal was struck with Tim Cook promising Chinese officials that Apple would “develop China’s economy and technological prowess through investments, business deals, and worker training.” The aim of the “memorandum of understanding” was to avoid regulatory disruptions affecting Apple’s business.

To the surprise of no one, Apple is now the largest smartphone brand in China. This milestone marks the first time in over 6 years, according to data from the analysts at Counterpoint Research, which confirms The Information’s sources.

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So, what’s in the secret deal? Well, let’s start by traveling back to 2015. Apple was preparing to release the Apple Watch in China. However, Chinese regulators had other ideas.

They informed the company that to move forward with their product release they would have to comply with the requests from China’s Bureau of Surveying and Mapping to make the Senkaku (or Diaoyu depending on your stance of the dispute) Islands appear larger on the maps. The long-standing territorial dispute between China & Japan has made their request of Apple even more controversial. Why make the islands appear larger? To keep it top of mind for the residents there in China? It’s only in China that the islands appear larger on the map. Once you’re outside the boundary of China they return to the regular size. Apple caved to this request. United States officials have backed Japan by committing to defend the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands per The Guardian adding an uncomfortably hot layer to Apple’s agreement with China.

Most Apple-carrying customers proudly point to Apple’s privacy changes regarding app tracking and Phone ID tracking. In turn, Apple has benefitted from using this information in their marketing endeavors with Tim Cook stating on Twitter, “At Apple, we’ve always believed that you should be in control of your data — what you do with it and who you share it with should be up to you. App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14.5 gives you the choice to share the data that’s being collected about you across apps and websites.” Sounds great, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t exist in China.

The secret deal ensures the privacy relay is not available in China. Maybe their new slogan should be: Apple, we care about your privacy… as long as it doesn’t affect our bottom line.

Check out the full article here to find out what other concessions Apple has agreed to in order to make a buck.

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Jessica Martin escaped from Texas to Austin to receive her degree in English from the University of Texas. When she isn't writing, you can find her outside playing with her kids, camera in hand.

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