Apple’s Chinese customers will be dealt a disappointment on September 19th, as a New York Times report says the release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be delayed due to a delay in regulatory approval.
On Wednesday, Apple told China’s three big state-owned mobile service providers that it would not release the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in mainland China on Sept. 19, when sales start elsewhere. The carriers had already booked advertising campaigns for the phones.
While Apple didn’t explain the delay, carrier executives said, it appeared the phones had not received approval from Chinese regulators to go on sale.
Chinese officials and the state-controlled media have become more wary of foreign controlled technology companies following Edward J. Snowden’s revelations last year of American cyber-spying. July saw state-controlled network CCTV going so far as to call Apple’s iPhone a threat to China’s security.
“We appreciate CCTV’s effort to help educate customers on a topic we think is very important,” Apple said in a statement responding to the report. “We want to make sure all of our customers in China are clear about what we do and we don’t do when it comes to privacy and your personal data.”
“Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a back door in any of our products or services,” the statement said. “We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will. It’s something we feel very strongly about.”
Apple’s staff in China were also caught off-guard by the last-minute delay, with one executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity, saying Apple’s Beijing and Shanghai stores had been preparing for a Sept. 19th release date.
A sales manager at China Telecom, again speaking anonymously, said Apple merely told the carrier that “there are some details which are not ready.” Adding, “Apple completely let us down without prior notice.”
Apple has declined comment on the news, and Apple’s Chinese website carries a statement merely saying the date of the iPhone 6’s availability would “be updated soon.”
Media in China reported on Wednesday that the iPhone 6 had not yet been approved by the Ministry for Industry and Information Technology, a requirement for devices such as smartphones. As of Wednesday, no approval for the iPhone 6 could be found on the regulator’s website.