Apple’s drops AIDS charity branding for its red iPhone in China

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iPhone enthusiasts the world over were given a new slab of glass to lust over yesterday after Apple unveiled a red version of the iPhone 7 in its latest move to support HIV/AIDS charity [Red].

The (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition iPhone 7 is the first time that Apple has supported the charity through its flagship phone,  — previous (PRODUCT)RED editions have included Beats headphones and Apple accessories — so it is sure to heighten international awareness and generate additional funds since each purchase includes a contribution to the charity. The limited edition iPhone will go up for sale in over 40 parts of the world starting this Friday, but one market where the charitable tie-in will go unnoticed is China, the world’s largest country based on population.

Despite the potential for sales in China — where iPhones are status symbols, and a unique color can make a limited edition release particularly desirable — the red iPhone is not being promoted using the (PRODUCT)RED branding.

Eagle-eyed internet users noticed the different marketing that the device received on Apple’s China website compared to its website in Taiwan. In China, the red iPhone 7 is devoid of any mention of the (PRODUCT)RED brand although it contains all the other details, including launch date and time.

The phone on Apple’s China website

The phone on Apple’s Taiwan website

That’s not an oversight on the part of Apple or its website team. HIV and AIDS are a tricky subject in China. Aid agencies and media have often warned of China’s “looming” AIDS crisis. Despite making some impressive progress among students and young people, government policies haven’t stopped the rise of the disease among gay men in China, as The Global Post reported in some detail last year.

Apple, which has been caught in the political crosshairs in China over its purported use of location data and President Trump’s aggressive trade policies, is likely steering clear of controversy here by decoupling the device’s association with [Red]. That applies to both authorities and consumers, too.

Either way, some analysts remain unconvinced that this phone alone can impact Apple’s sales slump in China. Other rival companies already offer red devices, IDC’s Bryan Ma pointed out — the real test will be the next iPhone, which also marks the device’s tenth anniversary. That device has been tipped to feature a gamut of new technologies, including perhaps an OLED screen. Providing real differentiation from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6s series is what many pundits believe will boost Apple’s sales in China since previously launched devices were considered too similar for many consumers to fork out for an upgrade.

Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment for this story.