Apple Says iTunes Movies, Book Services Closed Down in China

A Report Says China's Media Regulator Shut Them Down

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Apple iTunes Movies and iBooks have shut down in China.
Apple iTunes Movies and iBooks have shut down in China. Credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
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Apple's iTunes Movies and iBooks service were closed down in China last week, less than seven months after they started operations.

Apple wants to restore services "as soon as possible," the company said in a one paragraph e-mailed statement, without providing a timeframe. The closings were ordered by a media regulator -- the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television -- The New York Times reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

In February, the regulator and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released new rules governing publication of virtually all types of Internet content in China. The regulations took effect last month. Online content has for years been heavily censored in China, with foreign websites including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Google's search engine off-limits unless people use special software to circumnavigate the blockage.

Greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, is Apple's largest market after the U.S., with the company rolling out new services amid slowing growth for device sales. For the three months ended December, revenue in the region rose 14% to $18.4 billion and Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook plans to continue investing despite an economic slowdown.

Apple was the third-largest smartphone vendor in the December quarter with 12.5% of shipments, according to researcher Canalys. That trailed Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi, which each had about 15%.

Last month, President Xi Jinping said China would accept foreign internet companies as long as they abide by Chinese laws and regulations.

-- Bloomberg News, with Ad Age staff