Apple has reportedly pulled thousands of apps from its App Store in China, possibly in response to pressure from government-run media outlets in recent weeks.
The Wall Street Journal reported in late July that the Xinhua media outlet, China Central Television, and other state-controlled or state-supported news agencies had been criticising Apple for allowing certain content and platforms to flourish in the country. Specifically, CCTV called out Apple for featuring “gambling” apps claiming to be lottery apps approved by the state.
And now Apple seems to be bowing to that pressure. According to new reports from the Journal and Bloomberg, CCTV claims Apple has taken down 25,000 apps, and at least 4,000 of the removed apps were “tagged with the keyword ‘gambling.’”
Apple confirmed to Bloomberg and the Journal that it had already taken action. “Gambling apps are illegal and not allowed on the App Store in China,” Apple explained in a statement sent to both outlets on Monday. “We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store.”
The company did not tell either outlet how many apps had been barred. Apple did not immediately respond to a Gizmodo request for comment.
Apple does most of its manufacturing of iPads and iPhones in China, and the country is Apple’s second-largest market, after the US.
Last year, Apple removed all major virtual private network apps from its App Store in China, responding pressure from China’s government, which does not want citizens using VPNs to bypass internet censorship. The app purge is happening as China imposes stricter rules on tech companies operating in the country and as a trade war is brewing between the US and China. [Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg]