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Apple's iTunes Movies, iBooks Store go dark in China 6 months after launch

Source: Weibo

Chinese consumers looking to buy a movie or e-book through Apple's iTunes services found themselves out of luck on Friday, as both stores went offline without explanation.

According to multiple accounts on popular microblogging service Sina Weibo, Apple's iTunes Movies and iBooks Store are inaccessible on both mobile and desktop devices, and have been down for hours. Apple's regional system status webpage states all services are functioning properly, though a brief iCloud outage occurred earlier in the day, roughly coinciding with the first movies and iBooks complaints.

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.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The downtime comes six months after Apple opened the doors to its movie and e-book storefronts in China last September, a major launch that also included the activation of Apple Music services. The music streaming product remains in operation as of this writing.

With a booming middle class, China has quickly become Apple's most important growth market, but the country's regulations have at times proven difficult to navigate. For example, it was discovered last year that Apple was actively disabling its iOS News app for users living in mainland China, a move some believed to be in adherence of strict censorship policies. SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue later denied those claims.

"We know how to work in China. We've got app stores. We have got our retail stores there. We launched Apple Music in China. We have a great working relationship in China," Cue said in November.