More Chinese agencies and state-backed companies across the country have asked their staff to not bring Apple iPhones and other foreign devices to work, Bloomberg News reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

For over a decade, China has been seeking to reduce reliance on foreign technologies, asking state-affiliated firms such as banks to switch to local software and promoting domestic semiconductor chip manufacturing.

Multiple state firms and government departments across at least eight provinces have instructed employees in the past month or two to start carrying local brands, the Bloomberg News report said.

Apple did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for a comment.

In December, smaller firms and agencies in lower-tier cities from provinces including Zhejiang, Shandong, Liaoning and central Hebei, which houses the world’s largest iPhone factory, issued their own verbal directives, the Bloomberg News report said.

Reuters reported in September that staff in at least three ministries and government bodies were told not to use iPhones at work.

Apple’s shares were marginally down at $196.50 in extended trading.

The iPhone maker has been moving production away from China, too. A report earlier this month said the company was allocating product development resources for iPad to Vietnam.

Apple was working with China’s BYD, a key iPad assembler, to move new product introduction (NPI) resources to Vietnam, the report had said, adding that this was the first time the company had shifted NPI resources to Vietnam for such a core device.

Engineering verification for test production of an iPad model will start around mid-February and the model will be available in the second half of next year, the report had said.

Back in October, Chinese e-commerce platforms including PDD Holdings’ Pinduoduo and Alibaba’s Taobao were offering deep discounts on Apple’s latest iPhone 15 series, with some selling models up to CNY 900 ($123 or roughly Rs. 10,229) below the retail price.

Analysts say the iPhone 15 has not been selling as well in China as its predecessor. Counterpoint Research said in October that iPhone 15 sales in China were down 4.5 percent versus the iPhone 14 in the first 17 days after its market launch.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

Apple launched the iPad Pro (2022) and the iPad (2022) alongside the new Apple TV this week. We discuss the company’s latest products, along with our review of the iPhone 14 Pro on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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