What just happened? Apple has pulled 25,000 apps from the app store in China following criticism from the state-run media, which has accused the company of allowing banned content on its platform. Chinese broadcaster CCTV said the apps were removed to comply with state regulators, and that 4000 of them were tagged with the word gambling.
“Gambling apps are illegal and not allowed on the App Store in China,” Apple said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg. “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.”
25,000 apps might sound like a lot, but it still represents less than 1.5 percent of the 1.8 million App Store apps available in the country.
CCTV first criticized Apple over the gambling-related apps found on its store earlier this month. The broadcaster has also called out Apple over iMessage spam, something the company is trying to address by working with Chinese carriers.
“Apple itself has set up the rules on how to allow apps onto its store, but it didn’t follow that, resulting in the proliferation of bogus lottery apps and gambling apps,” said CCTV.
China remains one of Apple’s largest markets after the US, but the company faces a constant battle to stay on the right side of regulators. Last year 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.
While Apple has an app store in China, Google Play remains banned. But the latter company is working with the Chinese government on Project Dragonfly—a heavily restricted search engine that will not show links to forbidden topics such as democracy, religion, or human rights.