In the United States, the president is threatening a large scale ban on apps available on the iPhone that originate from China, with the primary focus being on TikTok but also including apps like WeChat. And blocking the latter may have a huge impact on Apple’s business.
According to a couple of different reports, the looming ban on WeChat could spell a huge dent in Apple’s sales in China, with a lot of Chinese users saying they’d abandon the iPhone altogether if it meant they couldn’t access WeChat. The problem, other than the ban itself, is that the wording in the executive order signed by Trump is vague, and there are still questions regarding whether or not the ban would be present only in the U.S. or across the globe. Clarification is still needed in this regard, and the Commerce Department has to iron out the details.
The survey conducted on Weibo (via Bloomberg) is centered around iPhone users in China, and is coming from the position that the WeChat ban would impact folks in that region rather than just in the United States. With that in mind, it’s possible that iPhone owners in China might not lose access to WeChat even if the app is banned in the U.S., so keep that in mind even with these dire numbers.
But, according to the survey, of which 1.2 million people responded, a whopping 95% said they would switch to an Android phone if it meant that was the way they could access WeChat. One respondent had this to say:
The ban will force a lot of Chinese users to switch from Apple to other brands because WeChat is really important for us,” said Sky Ding, who works in fintech in Hong Kong and originally hails from Xi’an. “My family in China are all used to WeChat and all our communication is on the platform.
One other resident in China, Kenny Ou, said a ban of WeChat on the iPhone would essentially make the device “electronic trash”.
In a separate report from The Wall Street Journal, several different large scale companies are trying to make it clear to the White House administration that a ban on WeChat is not great for business, and they would very much like it if that did not happen. Those companies include Apple, Disney, Ford, Walmart, and others.
U.S. companies whose fortunes are linked to China are pushing back against the Trump administration’s plans to restrict business transactions involving the WeChat app from Tencent Holdings Ltd., saying it could undermine their competitiveness in the world’s second-biggest economy.
More than a dozen major U.S. multinational companies raised concerns in a call with White House officials Tuesday about the potentially broad scope and impact of Mr. Trump’s executive order targeting WeChat, set to take effect late next month.
This could have huge implications across the board, and not just for Apple. However, the potential hit Apple could take if even a portion of these respondents actually did abandon the iPhone to retain access to WeChat would be massive.
What if you found yourself in a similar situation? If your primary messaging app (not iMessage) was facing a ban on iOS, would you abandon the platform rather than switch to another option? Let us know in the comments.