With an eye to the future, Apple has apologised to its Chinese customers and changed the warranty and repair policy for its iPhones and laptops.
That follows strong condemnation in the state-run media of its after-sales service.
Chief Executive Tim Cook said in a statement on its website that he was sorry that “some consider Apple’s attitude to be arrogant, inattentive or indifferent to consumer feedback”.
He added that Apple has “much to learn about operating and communicating in China”.
Cook’s apology, unusual though not as rare as during his predecessor Steve Jobs’ tenure, highlights the importance of the market for Apple.
Underlining the interest the government has been taking, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: “As a Chinese consumer, I think, it is only normal for Apple to earnestly respond to consumers’ reasonable demands. We look positively on Apple’s statement.”
China is currently Apple’s second largest market, but Cook has said he expects the country to replace North America as its biggest source of revenue with sales expanding faster than in mature markets where smartphone penetration is near saturation.
Apple was singled out on March 15 by state-run China Central Television in an annual corporate malpractice expose.
Other media outlets have since taken up the baton, focusing on the company’s warranty policy on Mac laptops, which critics say is shorter than in other countries.
The Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, ran an editorial attacking Apple for its “unparalleled arrogance”.
However CCTV’s show became the subject of online ridicule over claims the network paid celebrities to post micro-blog comments against Apple.
Thousands of Chinese have come to Apple’s defence online, criticising Chinese firms as being the ones that lack transparency and consumer trust.