Apple CEO Tim Cook: iPhone 11 Sales Are Off to a ‘Very, Very Good Start’

Ahead of today's earnings call covering the fourth fiscal quarter of 2019, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview with Reuters that iPhone 11 sales are off to a "very, very good start" so far, and the launch has led to improved sales in key markets like China.

In China in particular, the lower $699 starting price of the ‌iPhone 11‌ is "more similar to the price points that [Apple] had great success with in the past," Cook said, which helped drive sales.


Apple is predicting strong holiday quarter sales with guidance between $85.5 billion to $89.5 billion, and Cook said that the guidance is based on strong sales of services and wearables as well as promising early sales of the new 2019 iPhones. Apple no longer provides specific sales data on the iPhone, so it's difficult to determine how many of the new devices that Apple sold.

Cook said that the numbers also reflect Apple's belief that the United States and China will resolve their trade dispute. "I don't know every chapter of the book, but I think that will eventually happen," Cook said. "I certainly hope it happens during the quarter, but we'll see about that."

Lowering iPhone prices for older iPhones in China has also helped slow mid-year sales declines. iPhone sales in China picked up towards the end of the quarter, and Apple also saw double-digit services revenue growth in China.

"iPhone had a remarkable comeback from the way we performed earlier in the year," Cook told Reuters.

Related Roundups: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro
Tag: China

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Apple Wins CITI Outstanding Brand Award in China for Environmental Focus

Apple today announced that it is the first company to receive a Green Supply Chain CITI Outstanding Brand award for its environmental efforts in China, specifically its contributions towards making its entire supply chain more environmentally responsible.

Apple announced the news on its Chinese site (via 9to5Mac), and said that as a CITI brand, the company will continue to maintain a "superior supply chain" while further promoting environmental management.


Ge Yue, the managing director of Apple Greater China, said that Apple has been committed to smart and sustainable manufacturing to be beneficial to the world.
"We always believe that to create the best products in the world, we must create the products that are most beneficial to the world. For this reason, we have been committed to promoting the development of smart and sustainable manufacturing. I am very grateful to Director Ma Jun and IPE for their cooperation with us. We believe that through our joint efforts, we will be able to achieve greater achievements in protecting the Earth and its important resources."
Apple says that it is working on projects to strengthen its environmental impacts outside of its own supply chain, with plans to share best practices with others and extend its results to the entire industry.

In China, Apple's clean water management program has been able to save more than 25 billion gallons of water, and Apple has 76 suppliers participating in an effort to run entirely on renewable energy.

More than 40 percent of Apple manufacturing partners are committed to producing Apple products with 100 percent clean energy, and by the end of next year, Apple and its suppliers will have a total of 6 GW of renewable energy in use worldwide.


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Apple CEO Tim Cook Named Board Chairman of Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management

Apple CEO Tim Cook is now the chairman of the advisory board of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management (SEM), and he recently hosted the 20th annual meeting of the committee.

The news of his appointment was shared in a recap of the 2019 meeting of the board, which is the 20th annual meeting since the committee was established.


Cook has been a member of the Beijing-based university's advisory board since October of 2013. Tsinghua SEM is considered one of the top schools in China, and other advisory board members include General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Dell CEO Michael Dell, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, Pepsi CEO Ramon Laguarta, Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and more.

Cook took over as chairman from Breyer Capital founder and CEO Jim Breyer, who led the board for the last three years.

In a speech at the meeting, Cook said that he plans to work with board members to "promote the development of the college" over the course of the next three years that he will hold the position.

Cook's promotion to chairman of the board at Tsinghua SEM comes as Apple struggles to navigate tensions between China and Hong Kong. Earlier this month, Apple pulled the HKMap Live app that protestors were using to communicate police movements after China suggested the app was being used to target specific police officers.

Last Friday, U.S. lawmakers condemned Apple's decision and called on the company to reinstate the app, but Apple has not yet responded.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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U.S. Lawmakers Call Apple’s Move to Remove HKMap Live App ‘Deeply Concerning’

U.S lawmakers on Friday sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook expressing concern over Apple's decision to remove the HKMap Live app from the App Store after complaints from the Chinese Government.

The letter [PDF] calls Apple's removal of the HKMap Live app "disappointing" and points out a prior quote from ‌Tim Cook‌ that reads "At Apple, we are not afraid to say that our values drive our curation decisions."


The HKMap Live app, which was used by protestors in Hong Kong to crowdsource information about street closures and police presence, was pulled from the App Store in early October.

Apple later reversed course and approved the app, allowing it back into the ‌App Store‌, but after China accused Apple of "protecting rioters," Apple removed the app once again and it has remained unavailable.

According to U.S lawmakers, the HKMap Live app lets peaceful demonstrators to share locations to keep out of harm's way. Apple, says the letter, has also censored "at least 2200 apps in China," including VPN apps and apps made by and for "oppressed ethnic minorities."

The letter goes on to accuse Apple of complicity in China's efforts to block change, and questions whether Apple is willing to bow to Chinese demands to avoid losing access to Chinese consumers.
You have said publicly that you want to work with China's leaders to effect change rather than sit on the sidelines and yell at them. We, too, believe that diplomacy and trade can be democratizing forces. But when a repressive government refuses to evolve, or, indeed, when it double down, cooperation can become complicity.

The Chinese government is growing more aggressive in its attempts to dictate terms to U.S. corporations, as last week's headlines involving Apple, the National Basketball Association, and Activision Blizzard make clear. Cases like these raise real concern about whether Apple and other large U.S corporate entities will bow to growing Chinese demands rather than lose access to more than a billon Chinese consumers.
When the app was pulled for the final time, Apple CEO ‌Tim Cook‌ told Apple employees that based on "credible information" from Hong Kong police, the app was being used to target individual officers for violence.
It is no secret that technology can be used for good or for ill. This case is no different. The app in question allowed for the crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints, protest hotspots, and other information. On its own, this information is benign. However, over the past several days we received credible information, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present. This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law. Similarly, widespread abuse clearly violates our ‌‌App Store‌‌ guidelines barring personal harm.
The letter from the lawmakers ends by urging Apple to reverse course and re-allow the HKMaps on the ‌App Store‌.
In promoting values, as in most things, actions matter far more than words. Apple's decisions last week to accommodate the Chinese government by taking down HKMaps is deeply concerning. We urge you in the strongest terms to reverse course, to demonstrate that Apple puts values above market access, and to stand with the brave men and women fighting for basic rights and dignity in Hong Kong.
The letter was written by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Sen. Maro Rubio, R-Fla., Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., and Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J. A similar letter was also sent to Blizzard following Blizzard's decision to ban Ng Wai Chung, a Hearthstone player who voiced support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: China

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Apple Clarifies Tencent’s Role in Fraudulent Website Warnings, Says No URL Data is Shared and Checks are Limited to Mainland China

Following user concern over Apple using Chinese company Tencent as one of its Safe Browsing partners for Safari, Apple has issued a statement assuring customers that website URLs are not shared with its safe browsing partners.

For those unfamiliar with the feature, Safari sends data to Google Safe Browsing to cross reference URLs against a blacklist to protect users against scams and malicious sites. It recently came to light that Apple is also using Tencent for this purpose, and there was concern that data from users outside of China was being sent to Tencent.


According to Apple's statement, that is not the case, and Tencent is used for devices that have their region code set to mainland China. Users in the United States, the UK, and other countries do not have their website browsing checked against Tencent's safe list.
Apple protects user privacy and safeguards your data with Safari Fraudulent Website Warning, a security feature that flags websites known to be malicious in nature. When the feature is enabled, Safari checks the website URL against lists of known websites and displays a warning if the URL the user is visiting is suspected of fraudulent conduct like phishing.

To accomplish this task, Safari receives a list of websites known to be malicious from Google, and for devices with their region code set to mainland China, it receives a list from Tencent. The actual URL of a website you visit is never shared with a safe browsing provider and the feature can be turned off.
Safari occasionally receives a list of hash prefixes of URLs known to be malicious from Google or Tencent, choosing between them based on the device's region setting (Tencent for China, Google for other countries). Hash prefixes are the same across multiple URLs, which means the hash prefix received by Safari does not uniquely identify a URL.

Prior to loading a website, when the fraudulent website warning feature is toggled on, Safari checks whether a website URL has a hash prefix to match the hash prefixes of malicious sites. If a match is found, Safari sends the hash prefix to its safe browsing provider and then asks for the full list of URLs that have a hash prefix that matches the suspicious one.

When Safari receives the list of URLs, it checks the original suspicious URL against the list, and if there is a match, Safari shows the warning pop up suggesting users stay away from the site. The check happens on the user's device, and the URL itself is not shared with the safe browsing provider, but because Safari communicates directly with the safe browsing provider, the providers do receive device IP addresses.

Information about Apple's safe browsing partners can be found in the About Safari and Privacy screen, available in the Privacy and Security section of the Safari portion of the Settings app. Fraudulent website protection is enabled by default, and those still concerned about the safety check feature can turn it off by deselecting the "Fraudulent Website Warning" toggle.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tags: China, Safari

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Apple Sending User Data to Chinese Company for Fraudulent Website Warnings in Safari

Apple's Fraudulent Website Warning feature in Safari for iOS and Mac has come under scrutiny for using Chinese internet giant Tencent as one of its Safe Browsing providers.

The Safari feature has long sent data to Google Safe Browsing to cross-reference URLs against a blacklist and protect users against phishing scams and sites that attempt to push malware. However, it's unclear when Apple started sending user data to Tencent as well.

Apple notes in iOS that it sends some user IP addresses to Tencent, but most users are probably unaware of the fact. The mention can be found in the "About Safari & Privacy" screen, which is linked via small text under the Privacy & Security section in Settings -> Safari. The Fraudulent Website Warning feature is also enabled by default, so users aren't likely to know that their IP address may be logged unless they opt to view the information screen.

Apple's reference to Tencent has been found on devices running iOS 13, but some tweets suggest versions as early as iOS 12.2 also included the Chinese company as a safe browsing provider.

At this point, it's difficult to know for sure whether Apple users residing outside of China are having their data sent to Tencent, but the company appears to be mentioned on iPhones and iPads registered in the U.S. and the U.K., and possibly in other countries, too.


The privacy implications of shifting Safe Browsing to Tencent's servers are unknown, because Apple hasn't said much about it. However, according to Johns Hopkins University professor Matthew Green, a malicious provider could theoretically use Google's Safe Browsing approach to de-anonymize a user by linking their site requests.

Apple's relationship with the Chinese government has come in for increasing criticism lately, and that could make customers uneasy about Apple's links to Tencent, which is known to work closely with the Chinese Communist Party.

As such, Green believes users "deserve to be informed about this kind of change and to make choices about it. At very least, users should learn about these changes before Apple pushes the feature into production, and thus asks millions of their customers to trust them."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tags: China, Safari

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Apple Reportedly Told Apple TV+ Show Creators to Avoid Angering China

In the same week that Apple's decision to pull a Hong Kong protest app from the App Store drew heavy criticism, a new report from BuzzFeed News claims the company has asked Apple TV+ show runners to avoid negative depictions of China.


As early as 2018, when Apple's original programming production got underway, company executives reportedly gave guidance to some show creators to "avoid portraying China in a bad light."

According to the news outlet's sources, the instruction was given by Apple software and services VP Eddy Cue, as well Morgan Wandell, Apple's head of international content development.

The attempt to steer content creators away from perceived criticism of China is said to be part of Apple's efforts to stay in its good books and avoid a repeat of April 2016, when the Chinese State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television shut down the iTunes Movies and iBooks stores, just six months after they had launched in the country.

The store closures were linked to the release of a controversial movie banned in China that imagines Hong Kong in 2025 with language police, mini Red Guards, radical protest and social alienation rife.

One show maker not connected to Apple told BuzzFeed News that the company's appeasement of Beijing is nothing new in the U.S. movie industry, which China has heavily invested in.
Apple's tip toeing around the Chinese government isn't unusual in Hollywood. It's an accepted practice."They all do it," one showrunner who was not affiliated with Apple told BuzzFeed News. "They have to if they want to play in that market. And they all want to play in that market. Who wouldn't?"
BuzzFeed News also spoke to one app developer who said that getting a phone call from Apple about an issue with China is not uncommon. "It's not a line of communication that would be open to any discussion," said the U.S. technology executive. "They have so much market power in general and they wield that pretty indiscriminately."

Apple CEO Tim Cook told employees on Thursday that the decision to remove the HKmap Live app from the ‌App Store‌ was based on information the company had received that it was being used to target individuals, property, and police, and violated local laws.

Earlier the same day, Apple also removed the app of news outlet Quartz from China's ‌‌App Store‌‌. The news organization said Apple removed its mobile app after complaints from the Chinese government about content in the app that is illegal in China."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Tim Cook Defends Removal of Hong Kong Mapping App From App Store in Leaked Memo

Apple CEO Tim Cook has written to employees defending the company's controversial decision to pull an app used by Hong Kong protestors to coordinate gatherings and avoid large concentrations of police.

Apple removed HKMap Live from the App Store on Thursday following the app's approval last week, which itself only came after an internal review of the company's original decision to reject it. Apple's reversal came after the Chinese Communist Party's flagship newspaper criticized Apple for letting the app into its store.

In a company-wide memo, a verified copy of which has been reproduced on Pastebin, Cook told staff that the decision to remove the app was not easy, but that Apple had received "credible information" from Hong Kong police that the app was being used to target individuals for violence. Here's the memo in full:
Team,

You have likely seen the news that we made the decision to remove an app from the ‌App Store‌ entitled HKmap.live. These decisions are never easy, and it is harder still to discuss these topics during moments of furious public debate. It’s out of my great respect for the work you do every day that I want to share the way we went about making this decision.

It is no secret that technology can be used for good or for ill. This case is no different. The app in question allowed for the crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints, protest hotspots, and other information. On its own, this information is benign. However, over the past several days we received credible information, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present. This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law. Similarly, widespread abuse clearly violates our ‌App Store‌ guidelines barring personal harm.

We built the ‌App Store‌ to be a safe and trusted place for every user. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously, and it’s one that we aim to preserve. National and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts. In this case, we thoroughly reviewed them, and we believe this decision best protects our users.

Tim
Cook has since been criticized for his claim that the app is used to target individual police and members of the public. The developers say HKmap Live is designed to help protestors avoid law enforcement. As such, it doesn't show individual officers but only large concentrations of police, as reflected in the web-hosted version of the app.

In a Twitter post, Charles Mok, a developer and member of Hong Kong's legislative council, revealed that he had written to Cook saying he was "deeply disappointed with Apple's decision to ban the app, and would like to contest the claims made by Hong Kong Police Force's Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau (CSTBC)."
"There are numerous cases of innocent passers-by in the neighborhood injured by the Kong Kong Police Force's excessive force in crowd dispersal operations," he wrote.

"The user-generated information shared using HKmap.live in fact helps citizens avoid areas where pedestrians not involved in any criminal activities might be subjected to police brutality which many human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have observed."
Mok's letter went on to note that since the banned app aggregates real-time reports from Telegram, Facebook and other sources, then the same standard should also be applied to review these social media apps.

In the U.S., lawmakers have also criticized Apple for not standing up for democratic values and free speech. "An authoritarian regime is violently suppressing its own citizens who are fighting for democracy," said Democrat senator Ron Wyden in a tweet. "Apple just sided with them."

"Apple assured me last week that their initial decision to ban this app was a mistake," tweeted Republican senator Josh Hawley. "Looks like the Chinese censors have had a word with them since. Who is really running Apple? ‌Tim Cook‌ or Beijing?"

At a press conference on Thursday, Hong Kong's Secretary for Transport and Housing was asked by reporters which local laws HKmap Live had violated that led Apple to remove it from the ‌App Store‌, but the official deferred to Cupertino: "The taking down of the app from the ‌App Store‌ is the decision made by the operating company – Apple. So, if you want to know the reason for them to take down the app, maybe you can approach Apple and the Apple Store."

Apple has so far declined to comment on the matter.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Apple Pulls Hong Kong Protest App From App Store Following Chinese Criticism

Apple has pulled an app from the App Store that Hong Kong protestors have been using to track police movements, saying it violates the company's guidelines and local laws.

Apple approved HKmap Live last week after reviewing its decision to initially reject the app from the  App Store .


However, on Wednesday Apple was criticized by Chinese state media for its decision to make the app available. "Letting poisonous software have its way is a betrayal of the Chinese people's feelings," said the People's Daily.

The app has since been delisted from the  App Store  and Apple has issued the following statement:
We created the  App Store  to be a safe and trusted place to discover apps. We have learned that an app, HKmap.live, has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong. Many concerned customers in Hong Kong have contacted us about this app and we immediately began investigating it. The app displays police locations and we have verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement. This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the  App Store .
In a series of tweets, the developers of HKmap Live said they disagreed with Apple's claim that the app endangered law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong, and argued that "there is zero evidence to support CSTCB's [the Hong Kong Police Force’s Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau] accusation that HKmap App has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement."


Earlier on Thursday, Apple also removed the app of news outlet Quartz from China's  App Store . The news organization told The Verge that Apple has removed its mobile app after complaints from the Chinese government, and said it had received a notice from Apple that the app "includes content that is illegal in China."

Demonstrations in Hong Kong began in March in response to an unsigned legal bill that threatened to allow extradition to mainland China. Since then, the protests have to expanded to demand that the city state retains its broader democratic rights. The special administrative region maintains separate governing and economic systems from that of mainland China under the principle of "one country, two systems".

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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China Accuses Apple of ‘Protecting Rioters’ After Approving HKmap Live for the App Store

Apple has come under attack from China for allowing an app in its App Store that is being used by Hong Kong protestors to track protests and police movements in the city state (via The Guardian).

Last week we reported that Apple was reviewing its decision to reject the HKmap Live app from the App Store while it investigated whether the software violates local laws. HKmap Live has been used extensively by pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong to crowdsource information about street closures and police presence.

Apple ultimately approved the app, which has become the most downloaded app under the travel category in the iOS App Store for Hong Kong – a fact that appears to have attracted the ire of the mainland Chinese administration.

On Wednesday, China's state media accused the tech giant of endorsing and protecting "rioters" in Hong Kong's ongoing protests. The condemnation came via the People's Daily, a recognized Chinese Communist party mouthpiece.

The commentary, the print-version of which ran with the headline "Protecting rioters – Has Apple thought clearly about this?", denounced Apple for "allowing the poisonous app to flourish," which it called "a betrayal of the Chinese people's feelings."

It said Apple's approval of HKmap Live, which it did not specifically name, made it an "accomplice" in the protests because it "blatantly protects and endorses the rioters," and questioned what the company's intentions were.

It also criticized Apple for allowing Glory to Hong Kong – an unofficial anthem frequently sung by protesters during the ongoing anti-government movement – to be available for download in the iTunes Store.
The map app is just the tip of the iceberg. In the Apple Music Store in Hong Kong, there was also a song advocating "Hong Kong independence." Such a song was once removed from the music store and has resurrected.

As a company with international influence, Apple has always enjoyed a high reputation. A company has its own standards of conduct, but should also have its social responsibilities. If Apple abandons its responsibilities and let violent acts get worse, it puts more users at risk.

Business is business, and politics is politics. Nobody wants to drag Apple into the lingering unrest in Hong Kong. But people have reason to assume that Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts. Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision.
While it appears that Apple deemed the HKmap Live app to be legal, it has acted to remove apps from the App Store to abide by Chinese law in the past.

In July 2017, it removed most VPN apps from the App Store in China, following regulations passed earlier in the year that require such apps to be authorized by the Chinese government. Later the same year, Apple removed Skype from the App Store in China to comply with local law.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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