After a week of strong criticism from the Chinese media, Apple CEO Tim Cook has apologized for "any concerns or misunderstandings" the company gave consumers. In a letter that's linked prominently on the front page of Apple's Chinese portal, Cook responds directly to allegations that Apple has been treating Chinese customers differently to Americans with its warranty policy in the country. In the letter, the CEO answers critics that called Apple's response to the allegations "arrogant," admitting that poor communication may be to blame, and outlines an improved, clearer warranty policy for Apple's iPhone 4 and 4S smartphones.
The two handsets were the root cause of Apple's recent issues in China — customers complained that the same fault in a US iPhone would result in a replaced phone, while Chinese iPhones were fixed with replacement parts. Apple pointed out that iPhone 5s are almost always replaced, while 4 and 4S handsets can often be fixed with replacement parts.
Local media coverage implied that Apple was avoiding replacing handsets because China's warranty laws require a full one year extension on replaced products, while Apple offers only a 90-day warranty on replaced parts. Apple has done everything but admit to this practice with this apology, noting that, in the past, it would replace everything but the back cover rather than giving customers a new phone. It's reversing that policy from today, and resetting Chinese users' warranties to the date of service where necessary. Other than that, It doesn't appear that Apple has given an awful lot here. Instead it's clarified its policies across its entire range and pledged to help train its local staff to better communicate those policies.