As of this morning, customers in China are unable to access Apple’s content stores for digital movies and books, the iTunes Store for Movies and the iBooks Store, as both services went offline last evening without explanation. These stores are now inaccessible in China on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices, as well as on computers with iTunes.
No reason was give for the downtime and Apple had not commented on the move at post time, but AppleInsider has learned that it has something to do with the government’s pending investigation into Apple’s business practices.
“AppleInsider has received reports claiming Apple pulled the content stores due to a pending government investigation into its business practices, but those assertions have not been verified,” reads the article.
Chinese users who opened the iTunes Store or the iBooks Store digital storefront app were greeted with an “Unavailable” prompt. Multiple user reports on China’s popular social network Sina Weibo confirm that both stores continued to be inaccessible to users in the country at the time of this writing.
Apple’s Chinese iCloud status page suggests that the affected services are up and running, but that page typically refreshes with new information hours after the issues had been reported on.
The iTunes Movies and the iBooks Store opened their virtual doors to Chinese customers more than six months ago.
“Customers in China love the App Store and have made it our largest market in the world for app downloads,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, at the time. “One of the top requests has been more great content and we’re thrilled to bring music, movies and books to China, curated by a local team of experts.”
The stores launched in the 1.33 billion people country with a selection of content from both Hollywood studios and major publishers and local studios like Bona, Huayi Brothers and 1905.
Select iTunes Movies in China included iTunes Extras and were available starting at 5 RMB for rental in high-definition and 18 RMB to buy new releases in high-definition. Some of the Chinese language books offered on the iBooks Store included “Big Head Son & Little Head Dad” by Zheng Chunhua, “The Family Belongings of Chinese People” by Ma Hongjie and Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight,” marking the first time that series became available in the digital format.
Apple Music, which debuted in China alongside the iTunes Movies and the iBooks Store services continues to be available in China.