Tim Cook: here's why Apple banned the Hong Kong protesters' maps app... again

Tim Cook: here's why Apple banned the Hong Kong protesters' maps app... again
In a "damned if you, damned if you don't" move, Apple's CEO Tim Cook defended the decision to pull down a map app used by Hong Kong protesters again. The first time it blocked the HKmap.live app access to the App Store on Tuesday, there was a media backlash, and Apple reinstated it on Wednesday.

Yesterday, however, a scathing piece in China's People's Daily newspaper seems to have done the job, and Apple blocked developers' access to the App Store again. Controversy is coming from unexpected places these days, and all of a sudden organizations like the NBA or companies like Apple are finding themselves on the lose-lose side of a trade dispute with China. 

For Apple, in particular, China is a complicated matter. It is both one of its largest revenue markets despite the singe-digit share, and the country where iPhone are made. The relationship with China always sits at the top of Tim Cook's agenda and that is why he felt compelled to comment on a seemingly minor App Store decision, as if to clarify the matter before staff, here's the memo:

Needless to say, the app developers are not pleased with the decision, and protesters are not buying the explanations which come hot on the heels of other tech companies purging other related apps and even games that could potentially put them on the wrong side of dear leader.



1. notfair

Posts: 755; Member since: Jan 30, 2017

Because Corporate America is more concerned about profits than human rights.

11. ph00ny

Posts: 2052; Member since: May 26, 2011

Pretty much. Specially now more than ever

15. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2439; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I agree. Google and Apple are wrong on this one and people will remember. If there was anytime ever for a 3rd party OS to make a surge in popularity for standing with the protestors, now would be the time.

19. Brewski

Posts: 710; Member since: Jun 05, 2012

Google and Apple may or may not be wrong, but by this time next year everyone will have forgotten what happened in Hong Kong, much less the removal of an app from the app store. You give people too much credit, after a few news cycles people's attention will be on the next thing.

22. P-YWS

Posts: 151; Member since: Aug 12, 2011

Please don't put "human rights violation" on everything indiscriminately. Violently destruction of public and private properties are criminal acts regardless. Although what were happening in HK are mostly due to geopolitical ploy, lawlessness acts by the protesters were oblivious and unquestionable (see the video, but not from the mostly-biased CNN). Regardless of the original spirit when the protest first started a few months ago, it has changed course and now deliberately uses criminal acts to push the HK government to agree to some ridiculous demands (e.g. let the criminals free). May be the apps was not created to help the protesters in the first place, but it was found to be a good tools to the protesters who acted criminally. If you believe that such apps should be allowed despite of its being used to commit criminal acts, then I am speaking to the deaf.

2. maherk

Posts: 6942; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

To be fair to him, he does have a point. Yes, the people in Hong Kong have the right to protest, but I've seen plenty of videos showing protestors destroy other people's properties. I'm all for peaceful protests, but red lines are crossed once you start attacking other people's businesses and cars.

3. notfair

Posts: 755; Member since: Jan 30, 2017

To be notfair, Apple sells in China between 100mil and 150mil devices per year and China wants control over HK, it's not rocket science why he took that decision. The police there is corrupt and the brutality that is ongoing there for months is unecessary.

7. maherk

Posts: 6942; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I'm not saying they are angels, but trust me, even in the most advanced countries, there would be a lot more casualties if the protestors were damaging everything that comes in front of them. French police were a lot tougher than them on the protestors. And people need to make up their minds, are Apple working on behalf of the US government when they stood by the protestors, or are they working with the Chinese government to block them?

18. TBomb

Posts: 1563; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Idon't think anyone is saying they're "working with" the Chinese government in a "working for" sense. They are "working with" in a abiding to/cooperating sense. I think what is grinding people's gears is that Apple fought and refused the US gov for months on unlocking a suspect's phone, but as soon as China gov has a request they do it with minimal resistance - almost turning it into something they are proud of doing with the email. This was most likely a business/sales decision which is why it's a big deal to people. Apple knows they have a stronghold on US consumers and the gov. with the income and value that Apple brings to the country. China already wants more home-team-Huawei devices floating around than Apple devices and this would have given the Chinese gov a reason to limit/hinder Apple sales in China.

8. wrm2013

Posts: 237; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

Peaceful protests change nothing. Real change comes from either money or violence.

20. vincelongman

Posts: 5723; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

But were those protesters or thugs paid by the CCP?

23. P-YWS

Posts: 151; Member since: Aug 12, 2011

Some of these protesters were clearly thugs who were destroying private and public properties. They are not simply criminals, period.

4. kanagadeepan

Posts: 1267; Member since: Jan 24, 2012

That's why I always believe Google is LESS EVIL...

5. whatev

Posts: 2322; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

Exactly, that’s why they blocked Huawei from putting their services on their phones

6. maherk

Posts: 6942; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Are they supposed to go against the rules their government has set? It's not like Google has taken this decision, or they're happy about it.

12. cmdacos

Posts: 4261; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Dumbest comment of the day goes to.... Do a little bit of research before you spout BS. And i see there 4 clueless morons that agreed with you.

9. drunkenjay

Posts: 1696; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

google removed a honkong protest game from the playstore. they are the same thing:https://www.theverge.com/2019/10/10/20908034/google-hong-kong-protest-game-play-store-removed-rules

10. JCASS889

Posts: 560; Member since: May 18, 2018

Yeah but unlike Apple, people with Android can just side load the app so it's not as big of an issue.

24. vincelongman

Posts: 5723; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

I don't really have an issue with Google removing that game That's stupid game by a s**tty dev trying to make quick buck Whereas the app Apple removed is an app to help the HK protests and a news app

25. kanagadeepan

Posts: 1267; Member since: Jan 24, 2012


13. cmdacos

Posts: 4261; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

What about the removal of the Taiwanese flag? Which groups were at risk for that one?

14. umaru-chan

Posts: 371; Member since: Apr 27, 2017

Totally unacceptable behavior. Corporate don't care about nothing but profits. Shame on Tim Cook.

16. Tipus

Posts: 894; Member since: Sep 30, 2016

Apple doesn't want to repeat NBA's mistake :)

17. aegislash

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

People misusing the app to target police? Sounds a lot like when those cops in Florida were whining that Waze should be banned because it could be misused to target police officers...despite it not showing exact locations of officers. Lame excuse.

26. kanagadeepan

Posts: 1267; Member since: Jan 24, 2012

HK Protesters must ditch iPhones. Make an Android version of the same app and upload to apkmirror or some other free site and sideload them... Problem solved...

28. gazmatic

Posts: 818; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

Will they ban Waze?

29. jinroh47

Posts: 13; Member since: Sep 26, 2014

the smart move is to really stay out of this boiling water, the app shouldn't have been approved in the first place

30. funky013

Posts: 19; Member since: Jun 30, 2016

I stopped reading at " hat the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals....."

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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