A Chinese firm ”disincentivizes” employees who buy Apple products

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Huawei logo with a person using phone
Design by Muntaha / TechEngage

Looks like the Apple-Huawei feud’s domino effect has begun. Recently, the air between the two companies turned bad when Apple accused Huawei of not abiding by US sanctions on Iran. It was this accusation that later paved the way of the arrest of Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou. As expected, the arrest did not sit well with China, even though the CFO was bailed out quickly.

Huawei has been giving Apple a tough time since the beginning of this year, and things got real when Huawei’s smartphone sales outnumbered the iOS pioneer.

According to a report by Yahoo, more than 20 Chinese companies showed their support for Huawei to the extent that they were willing to subsidize employee purchases of Huawei products by 10-20%. According to Quartz, a Zhejiang based technology company explicitly told their staff that if they buy any product by Apple, the chances of them getting a bonus or even a promotion would be negatively affected. The company also incentivized its staff to buy Huawei products. It stated that the managerial staff would be reimbursed for up to 50% of the original purchase price and the rest of the employees 20% for a Huawei product.

One of the users, Zhang Jun, wrote on Weibo:

“It’s a staffer’s personal freedom to choose a phone brand, it’s personal and shouldn’t be restricted by the company. It’s certainly a good thing to support domestic products, it’s good for the country and the staffers that the company rewards them to support domestic brands like Huawei, but no law supports penalizing a person for using an iPhone.. and taking away promotion chances and subsidies. The penalized staff should report it to the labor department. It’s good to love your country, but using Huawei doesn’t equal patriotism.”

For the employees who already have an Apple product, the company proposed a 25% reimbursement on voluntarily giving up the devices in order to buy a replacement from Huawei. A hashtag that translates as ”employees buying iPhones will not be promoted” made it to the top 5 hashtags on Weibo earlier this week.

China’s outrageous nationalistic policies are no surprise to anyone paying attention. 

Brock Silvers, the managing director of a Shanghai-based advisory firm, Kaiyuan Capital, said:

“In its attempt to establish the next generation of tech ‘unicorns’ [start-ups worth more than US$1 billion], China has ironically injected nationalism into its development process,”

He further added:

“But America’s innovation advantage actually results from the freedom it offers, via its capital markets.”

The stringent policies of China have already suffocated a lot of healthy competition in the country. Google, the father of search engines, could not survive in the surveillance-stricken atmosphere of the country. Its project DragonFly, which was supposed to launch in China, will not see the daylight as the Google employees protested that it violated civil liberties. 

Feud aside, consumers should have the right to choose which brand to buy for their personal use. It will be interesting to see how this new policy affects Apple’s bottom line. 

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