When NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden came forth last year with the US government's spying secrets, it didn't take long to realize that some of the information revealed could bring on some serious repercussions - not just for the US government, but also for US-based companies. The latest to feel the hit? None other than Apple, and in a region the company has been working hard to increase market share in: China.
China, via state media, has today declared that Apple's iPhone is a threat to national security - all because of its thorough tracking capabilities. It has the ability to keep track of user locations, and to some of the media in China, this could potentially reveal "state secrets" - somehow. It's being noted that the iPhone will continue to track the user to some extent even if the overall feature is disabled.
What strikes me as a bit odd is the fact that most smartphones today have the same capabilities that the Chinese media is attacking the iPhone for. My Android phone, for example, tracks where I go, and in the event that it's stolen, I'll be able to see where it is. It could be, though, that China is targeting Apple more because of its infamous "closed" platform. Android by comparison is quite open, and vendors would be able to disable such a feature if they wanted to - or were forced to.
Just because China has spoken out against the iPhone, it doesn't mean that the phone can't be sold there. This movement could potentially cause some consumers in China to look elsewhere for their smartphone needs, but it seems unlikely that such a thing would be too widespread. This move could potentially bode well for Chinese vendors, though, like Xioami, which seems to be doing really well lately (heck - they even managed to adopt Tegra K1 before anyone else).
China's iPhone ousting comes hot on the heels of Russia's industry and trade deeming AMD and Intel processors to be untrustworthy for government use. The nation will instead be building its own ARM-based "Baikal" processor.
Two things can be gleaned from all of this. For starters, it seems certain that Russia's and China's moves are not going to be the last - they simply don't trust foreign - especially US - designs. Secondly, because it's not only governments that are concerned with data-mining and user-tracking, maybe we need to see more options like the Blackphone, mobile devices that put security and privacy front and center. While not everything resulting from Snowden's leaks has been for the good, his revelations have done well to make the general population aware of their need for digital security and privacy.