Apple avoids (Product)Red branding in China for new red iPhone 7 models [u]

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Apple's new red options for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus — which, through (Red), will contribute proceeds to the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS — lack that same charity branding on the company's Chinese website. [Updated with comment by CEO Tim Cook]

Logos present on the U.S. and even Taiwanese websites are conspicuously missing in China, TechCrunch observed. It's unclear if the company is avoiding donations of Chinese proceeds, or simply concealing the fact.

Apple's U.S. website, with (Red) branding intact.
Apple's U.S. website, with (Red) branding intact.

It may be trying to avoid any controversy surrounding AIDS, given widespread criticism of the Chinese government's handling of the illness. Police have sometimes even engaged in crackdowns of organizations working in AIDS prevention, so openly supporting (Red) could theoretically be seen as confrontational, especially since state-owned businesses have been hesitant to participate in AIDS initiatives.

In November Apple did issue a Chinese press release supporting (Red), but even other products that would normally carry the branding — such as iPhone cases or the iPod touch — are currently missing it.

The company may be concerned about appeasing the government, given that it has not only dealt with online store closures and censorship, but is facing incoming data laws that will for instance require it to provide technical support in investigations. The company could theoretically be forced to create backdoors into its software if it wants to remain in the lucrative Chinese market.

The (Product)Red iPhones will go on sale this Friday, starting at $749 for a 128-gigabyte iPhone 7 and $869 for an equivalent 7 Plus. Until now, Apple has never supported (Red) through any of its flagship devices.

Update: On the issue of whether Chinese proceeds will go to the Global Fund, Apple CEO Tim Cook told MacRumors that this will happen "on every iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus we sell in every country in the world."


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