China flexes its muscles, bans sale of old iPhones

From the state-backed Global Times, a notably-timed move by China:

A Chinese court reportedly ordered Apple to stop selling older iPhone models in the country due to patent infringements, a move that shows China has the ability to exert pressure on US tech giants amid growing tensions, a Chinese analyst said.

The decision relates to a long-running patent dispute between chipmaker Qualcomm and Apple, patents that relate to allowing users to “edit and resize photos on a phone and to manage apps by using a touchscreen”. Here’s CNN’s take:

The ruling was a surprise. Product injunctions are rarely granted, and China was widely expected to reject Qualcomm’s request for a ban.

Although it’s impossible to know whether politics played a part in the decision, China and the United States are embroiled in a tit-for-tat trade war that threatens to boil over.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives writes via email:

According to Apple’s statement there should be no disruption to the models Chinese consumers can purchase, although this remains up in the air given the mixed messages and reports coming out of China this morning. In a nutshell, with China being a linchpin of growth for Apple around iPhone sales any further dent in the armor at this juncture is not what Apple or investors wanted to see given the headwinds around sales of its latest XR model.

It continues to feel like every day the sun will come out and there will be another bad data point for Apple as since the company reported its quarter in early November it’s been a string of bad news around iPhone demand, transparency in the food chain, supplier cuts, China tariff worries with the stock down significantly and losing its gains for the year. We continue to believe today’s news is more noise than a fundamental impact, although it will add to the black clouds over Cupertino until investors hear from the company in January.