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Apple Removes Thousands of Apps from its Chinese App Store

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Apple removed thousands of apps from its App Store in China on the final day of 2020.

Apple removed the apps in order to comply with Beijing’s new regulations, with the majority of the removed apps being unlicensed games.

However, campaigners have called for Apple to clarify why some apps were removed before the 31 December deadline. The tech firm originally told developers that the deadline would be in July, but subsequently extended it to December.

Analyst at market research firm Sensor Tower, Craig Chapple, said: "Apple is finally catching up with the regulations that are already enforced on China's many Android stores. The firm may have felt pressure from Chinese authorities, which for years have been increasingly enforcing these rules."

According to research firm Qimai, Apple removed some 46,000 apps from its store on 31 December, 85% of which were games.

Four years ago, China introduced a law which required games to have been given an official licence in order to be sold.

Foreign firms had to partner with local companies in order to sell games as they were forbidden from selling games directly to consumers.

Only 97 video game import licenses were granted in 2020 according to China's National Press and Publication Administration's website - many of which were for games consoles, not apps on Apple’s store.

Up until this year, publishers had been able to exploit a loophole in order to get their games published as Apple did not verify licence numbers despite requesting them.

Sensor Tower said the iPhone manufacturer had already removed almost 100,000 apps from its App Store in China before Christmas.

Apple keeps a running total of the number of apps that it has been forced to remove in China, but does not specify which apps were removed.

Last week, Michelle Kuppersmith from the Campaign for Accountability, urged Apple to be more open about apps it has been ordered to remove: "The number of apps that Apple says it removes from China each year doesn't line up with the much longer list of apps that are missing in China but commonly found in other markets.

"This inconsistency shows that a large number of politically sensitive apps are being pulled back from the China App Store.

"If Apple is choosing to soften its opposition to censorship in order to compete in the Chinese market, it should be transparent about that decision."

Harry Pererra
Harry Pererra

Harry turns on his experience in journalism and programming to write about the latest news in the world of tech and the environemtn. When he isn’t writing for usave he is working towards his Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and prefers dogs to cats.

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