Apple says sorry to Chinese for warranty problems

Weeks of attacks by Chinese state media have forced Apple to apologise to its Chinese customers, as the Californian firm attempts to counter a wave of negative publicity in its second largest market after the US.

CCTV, the Chinese state broadcaster, first targeted the business with a segment about alleged shortcomings in local warranty policies. That exposé was followed by a number of stories critical of Apple, both on CCTV and in The People's Daily, the official organ of the Communist Party.

Yesterday, as the state news service Xinhua reported that local market watchdogs had called for "tighter supervision of Apple Inc's disputed warranty policy", the company's chief executive, Tim Cook, responded with an apology to Chinese customers in a letter posted on Apple's Chinese-language website. He also said the company would revamp parts of its customer service policy, including an improved repair policy for customers of its iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S handsets.

Citing a lack of communication that had led to "speculation" about Apple's arrogance, Mr Cook expressed the company's "sincere apologies for any concerns or misunderstandings", according to a Google translation.

The apology underlines the importance of the Chinese market to Apple, which has recently become the subject of growing concern about its growth prospects, something that's reflected in the downward trajectory of its shares over the last six months.