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NGOs Point The Finger At Apple For China Pollution

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Apple's latest sales figures in China are six times  higher than last year. (Image: L. Freitas)
Apple's latest sales figures in China are six times higher than last year. (Image: L. Freitas)


  • NGOs say polluted river caused by Apple supplier
  • Apple sales surpass Lenovo on home turf by $1 billion; Q3 sales in China hit almost $9 billion
  • Chinese iPhone 5 fakes retail for $47 online

Chinese non-governmental environmentalist organizations have accused Apple of breaching environmental measures, listing over 20 suppliers. Apple’s accusers have described the alleged environmental damage in a report, “The Other Side of Apple II”, supporting their claim and including supposed photographic evidence.

The NGOs diffused video footage on Chinese video hosting website ku6.com, showing river water tinged with yellow supposedly caused by two companies in the surrounding area, one of which is thought to be a supplier to Apple.

Apple has a strong presence in China and shows continuing growth. The company’s third quarter 2011 sales figures in China were six times that of 2010, reaching close to $9 billion, reports CNN. In fact, Apple has surpassed Chinese personal computer provider Lenovo with rising sales for its Macs, iPhones and iPads. Apple’s second-quarter sales this year reached $3.8 million according to Digital Trends.

These numbers are $1 billion higher than Lenovo sales in China. Lenovo’s traditionally holds just under a third of the market and has shown more than 23% growth since 2010. Apple’s sextuple sales gain on last year, however, were enough to overtake Lenovo.

Lenovo questions whether sales for the two can be examined in the same bracket since Apple’s figures include iPhones and iPads, whereas Lenovo’s fare is mainly in PCs. Lenovo’s share in the PC market in China has grown to almost 32%, reports the Financial Times, and its global sales were up 15% in the second quarter to almost $6 billion, partly thanks to a 30% jump in US exports on 2010. Its EU sales are also set to rise as it snaps up German computer provider Medion affording the company close to 15% of Germany’s PC market share.

Apple Considers iPhone Launch with China Mobile

Talks are ongoing between Apple and China Mobile Ltd concerning the possible launch of a China Mobile iPhone. China Unicom has been the sole iPhone provider to date. Over seven million iPhones are currently operational on China Mobile’s 2G network.

The iPhones in use on the 2G network cannot be used on China Mobile’s 3G network, which works on the China-only TDSCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access) system. TDSCDMA is an air interface used in mobile telecommunications systems in China. It allows China independence from foreign technology and allows the circumvention of foreign patent fees. China Mobile has held TDSCDMA 3G license for over two years. Should Apple go ahead with the launch it will first need to design an iPhone specifically for China Mobile to be compatible with the system.

Chinese Clones Put Dent In Apple Profit

Apple has suffered losses due to the strong presence of iPhone knockoffs in China. In fact, counterfeit versions of Apple’s iPhone 5 were available even ahead of the original’s launch. China also produced fake iPhone 4s before the company’s official launch. Clone iPads and MacBook Airs have also been discovered.

Chinese gadget guide Giz-China described one fake iPhone 5 as keeping with Apple design. Fakes available in black and white models are sold online for as little as $47.

Key Statistics – Apple Inc in China (source: Wall Street Journal)

  • Apple generated $3.8 billion during the second quarter of 2011 in China, overtaking tech device leader Lenovo in first place.
  • Apple revenue was at just under $5 billion in Greater China for the first half of 2011, which is about 10% of global revenue for the company.
  • iPhone sales in China surged nearly 250% year-over-year, significantly more than the 155% growth they posted in the United States.

By Ellsy O'Neill for
Ellsy O'Neill is a Paris-based writer, proofreader and translator. She covers industry, culture and current affairs.

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