You may remember the maelstrom of openings Apple did in China back in 2015 and 2016: no less than 30 new official company stores in those two years. It was a huge expansion that resulted in impressive stores, driven by the growth opportunity the country offered.
But that growth stopped in its tracks from 2017. Since then, only five new Apple stores have opened in China. What happened? One might think it was simply the end of that ambitious expansion plan, but the reality seems to be much more complex .
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An article in The Informacion, reflected by MacRumors, states that Apple has stopped the opening of stores in China on several fronts that have been put against them. The first of them is already known: a wave of fraud in the Genius Bar that the company tries to stop as much as it can . Unfortunately there are many people who have fraudulent intentions in the Apple Stores in China, who are also not interested in buying accessories and therefore affect the sales of these.
But the main one, the one that puts more obstacles, is the bureaucracy . To open a store in China Apple has to cross ” a maze of government paperwork “, the only way to get all the permits (which are not few) to be able to open the store. Apparently some Apple executives have had to “run” to get some municipal permits. In fact, the source talks about some local politicians asking for free iPhone units as a bribe to lighten the paperwork.
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In addition, there is a war between cities like Beijing and Shanghai over the taxes paid in each municipality, which causes strong competition, and the ” grey market” of the iPhones that sneak in from Hong Kong also affects sales. And even with this scenario, Chinese stores still account for a good part of Apple Retail’s income, but it is not surprising that since Cupertino they have decided to slow down the expansion.