Chinese consumers now have access to Apple‘s latest and greatest phone, the iPhone 4, but it comes with a catch: the maps app can only display Google’s Chinese government approved, and thus inaccurate, map.
Google has long complied with the PRC’s laws enforcing its propaganda: any map published in China has to depict disputed Chinese territories as being fully part of China, even where, as in the case of Arunachal Pradesh, those territories are governed by another country (India). Inside China, Google Maps shows the borders the way China insists it must.
The iPhone’s maps app is powered by Google Maps. Up until now, the iPhone took its cue from Google, only showing the propaganda version of the borders inside China. Chinese iPhone owners who took traveled elsewhere with the phone, or who mimicked being elsewhere using a VPN, would see the more accurate version of Maps.
But with the iPhone 4s sold in China, Ogle Earth reports, Apple has apparently agreed to hardwire the Chinese version of maps into the phone. Regardless of where they are, these phones display the borders as the Chinese government demands.
This reflects pretty poorly on everyone involved. It’s one thing for Google to hold back certain search results to comply with local laws, but actively spreading propaganda on behalf of a foreign government is craven. And making it harder for users to avoid that propaganda is pretty weak on Apple’s part. And, of course, the Chinese government looks evil for having such laws in the first place, and ridiculous for pushing on such a minor detail.
Poor grades all around.