China has released its first list of 26 mobile app stores that have provided their business details to regulators, but notably, Apple’s app store is absent from the list.
This list, published by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s primary internet regulator, includes “app distribution platforms” run by major tech players like Xiaomi, Samsung Electronics, Tencent Holdings, Baidu, Oppo, Vivo, and Huawei Technologies.
However, Apple, the fourth-largest smartphone brand in China based on second-quarter shipments, is conspicuously missing.
Other registered platforms encompass Alipay, the payment platform operated by Ant Group, ZTE, Coolpad, Nubia, and Lenovo.
This development follows a regulation introduced by the CAC in August 2022, which required app distribution platforms, covering app stores and mini-program platforms like WeChat, to submit specific information for registration.
The regulation holds app stores responsible for policing the apps in their stores and mandates the rejection of apps containing “illegal or harmful content.” It also stipulates that app stores must collaborate with and support “supervision and inspection” by the CAC and other regulatory bodies.
In a statement accompanying the published list, the CAC emphasized that it does not endorse the service capabilities or existing apps of any platform.
In August, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that failure to register from September to March of the following year could result in penalties—however, the specific consequences needed to be detailed.
The requirement for mobile app providers to share business information with the government has raised concerns among independent Chinese software developers, who fear that it could impede local innovation and hinder access to overseas software.
The filing process, which can take up to 20 days, might prevent local providers from swiftly launching apps and making continuous improvements through rapid updates, a standard business model.
In recent years, Beijing has intensified its internet regulation efforts, targeting a wide range of content, from online education to video games. The total number of apps in China, which indicates the country’s digital economy, has also declined. Following Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on significant internet firms, 2.6 million apps were operating in China last year, marking a 25% decrease from the 3.5 million available in 2020.