updated 01:01 am EDT, Thu March 28, 2013
Online poll finds state-run companies, not Apple, most hated
Under continuing attacks by Communist Party-run newspaper The People's Daily and other government-run media outlets, Apple has emerged as a cause celebré among Internet users in China, who have responded to state-organized Apple bashing with strong criticisms of state-run companies and broadcasters. When independent Beijing-based finance and business magazine linked to a People's Daily article and asked readers to comment, they instead overwhelmingly criticized the state and its anti-Apple campaign.
On Wednesday morning, the magazine -- on its Sina Weibo account -- linked to a People's Daily article entitled "Smash Apple's 'Incomparable Arrogance'," again making inaccurate claims that the company does not honor warranties on iPhones and other devices in the way it does in western countries, and calling. Apple has previously posted a response on its website, pointing out that it exceeds China's legal requirements for repair warranties and generally denying the charges, saying its Chinese warranty is "more or less the same" as the one-year manufacturer warranty is worldwide.
Caijing asked its readers to comment on the link by asking "as a consumer, which arrogant company or companies do you want to smash? Please give specific names so that we can announce a top 10." The post generated over 600 comments and over 1,300 "forwards" (like "shares" or "retweets" in western terms), very few of which agree with the premise of the article. Rather than join in on the attack, readers named China's major banks, telecom providers, state-run oil companies, public utilities and The People's Daily itself, along with other media companies.
Most of the complaints centered around the poor customer service such monopolies generally provide, the Wall Street Journal reports. It quotes a user under the handle "Planet Virus" saying "if we say Apple is arrogant, then most state-owned enterprises are shameless," while another sarcastically posted that Apple's "arrogance" may be following the principle "when in Rome, do as the Romans do."
Many of China's institutions, the report says, offer an electronic box that customers can push buttons to rate their satisfaction with customer service, but it is unlikely that more than one "unsatisfied" button push is counted. The companies seem more concerned with deal-making, operational efficiency and profit, and customer service is not a strong priority.
The backlash against the wave of Apple attacks -- which began with a consumer show on a state-run channel that resulted in an embarrassing failure when a corresponding social media campaign that was exposed as an orchestrated propaganda attack -- comes mostly from China's growing middle-class and more Internet-savvy younger generations.
Theories regarding the media attack include a corrupt smear campaign from a Chinese-owned smartphone rival to fight Apple's growing popularity, a blackmail attempt intended to pressure the company to spend more money advertising in state-owned media outlets, or a political move designed to bolster China's own unpopular competing electronics firms. The US government has recently been scrutinizing Huawei and ZTE, both owned by the Chinese government, as possible security risks with regards to information access on its phones and other products, some of which are used by western governments.