Creators of Virtual Private Networks woke up to a rude shock yesterday when apple decided to obliterate VPNs from their store in China. Over 60 VPN apps were pulled from the store over the weekend. According to Apple, the apps had to be removed because they were in violation of recent regulations passed by the Chinese government.
The VPNs helped users in the region to find their way around government censorship and gain access to unauthorized media sources. One of the VPN manufacturers who’s complained about their apps being expunged from the app store is Golden Frog. The company produces privacy and security software applications such as VyprVPN. Golden Frog had worked hand-in-hand with Apple during the backdoor encryption case with the FBI in 2016.
Another victim of Apple’s act is ExpressVPN which is a service provider from outside China. Upon checking with Apple, the ExpressVPN officials were informed that their app had been removed from the China-based app store because it had content that was regarded as illegal in the country. However, that may not have been the case as TechCrunch speculates. China had declared in January that all VPN companies had to be licensed to operate in the country. This regulation wasn’t in favor of the VPN companies since the government couldn’t have licensed apps that would be used to penetrate their media censorship programs.
For the first time, China manages to battle a renowned foreign platform that helps expose the restrictions they have on their internet. However, it wasn’t an easy decision for Apple. The tech giant has been facing stiff competition from other rising phone vendors in the Chinese market such as Xiaomi. Apple’s shipment volume has been on a falling spree in the past two years. In 2015, the amount of shipment had dropped from 58.4 million to 44.9 million units in 2016. This saw a decline in their market share by 4 points.
OPPO is China’s leading phone brand followed by Huawei and Vivo. The fourth place, which was occupied by Apple, has been recently scooped by Xiaomi pushing it to fifth. China is the second leading market for Apple products after the United States. It also holds a huge growth potential for the company. This shows just how much the Apple needs the market. Therefore, they can’t afford to be at loggerheads with the government by providing apps that allow access to censored media. Thus, the act to remove the apps may have been a move to protect its 2nd most significant user-base.