As the world on Tuesday ogled over images of Apple’s new red version of the iPhone 7, some internet sleuths found something fishy about the marketing of the tech company’s newest device on its website in China.
While Apple’s websites around the globe touted the company’s partnership with the HIV/AIDS charity (Red), the Chinese website was suspiciously devoid of any mention of the (PRODUCT)RED brand in in its marketing of the newest addition to the iPhone family.
Apple has previously supported the charity by making (PRODUCT)RED editions of Beats headphones and other Apple accessories, but this is the first time the tech giant has used its flagship phone to raise funds for the group. The pairing is expected to heighten international awareness for HIV/AIDS in the 40 parts of the world where the phone will be available and also generate additional funds as each purchase includes a contribution to the charity
“Since we began working with (RED) 10 years ago, our customers have made a significant impact in fighting the spread of AIDS through the purchase of our products," Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, said in a press release. “The introduction of this special edition iPhone in a gorgeous red finish is our biggest (PRODUCT)RED offering to date in celebration of our partnership with (RED), and we can’t wait to get it into customers’ hands.”
So why wouldn’t Apple want to let China - the world’s largest country based on population - know about the charity consumers will support when purchasing the limited edition smartphone?
Apple did not return Fox News’ request for comment, but there is widespread speculation among tech industry insiders that the company is treading lightly in China as it is already viewed in an unfavorable light by officials in Beijing.
Chinese state media reported in 2014 that Apple’s iOS 7 frequent locations function collected data on where individual iPhone users went – a claim Apple denied – and President Trump’s threat of a 45 percent tariff on imports from China has caused concerns at Apple over their profit margin in the country.
The biggest reason, reports suggest, that Apple has kept the (PRODUCT)RED branding off its China website is that HIV/AIDS is a tough subject to broach in China. While the country has made impressive strides in fighting the disease - China's adult prevalence of HIV is now less than 0.1 percent– the government has failed to stop the spread of infections among gay men in China and international aid agencies and some media organizations have called AIDS a “looming” epidemic in the country.
Tech industry analysts, however, say that no marketing ploy will reverse Apple’s sales slump in China. What could reverse the trend is a real differentiation between the next iPhone and the current models, which were seen as too similar to older versions for many Chinese buyers to consider purchasing.