According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the tech giant removed as many as 25,000 illegal gambling apps, many of which were disguised as official lottery apps, from China's App Store after China Central Television criticized the company for not doing more to catch and remove banned content.
Apple has pulled a massive 25,000 apps from its Chinese App Store following state media complaints about the company.
This followed a report from CCTV in July which stated that the illegal applications in Apple's App Store had caused people to lose money.
"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", read the statement made Monday, Aug. 20. A year ago saw it remove 700 VPN apps from the store, which were used to circumvent the country's Great Firewall and access blocked websites and social media platforms.
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Apple's App Store is the only major foreign-run app platform in China, where competitors - including Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google Play store - are banned.
App stores run by other companies, including Baidu and Tencent, are also required to remove banned foreign content and gambling apps.
The state media attacks came at a vulnerable time for Apple, which like other US companies operating in China, is caught in the middle amid growing trade friction between Washington, D.C. and Beijing. Apple may also be treading lightly due to the escalating trade war between the United States and China and the possible implications it could have for the company's business in China. Past year also the company removed 700 virtual private network (VPN) apps from its Chinese App Store on the request made by the government. It also said that fake positive reviews for the illegal apps had misled some users.
China is one of Apple's largest markets, accounting for roughly 20 percent of its revenue a year ago. CCTV claimed that Apple was not doing enough to filter out "bogus lottery and gambling apps". Messages sent through the iMessage service are encrypted, which means only the sender and the receiver can access it. Apple's refusal to break encryption and allow access to intelligence agencies and police is well known in the USA and other western markets.