If Trump bans Apple from offering WeChat, people in China could ditch iPhones in droves
- Trump’s executive order banning WeChat-related transactions could potentially force Apple to remove the Tencent app from the iOS App Store
- iPhone shipments could plummet by 30 per cent if Apple users in China can't download WeChat, said widely-cited Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo
Apple did not respond to questions about WeChat’s possible removal from the App Store.
Baffled WeChat users in China have been pondering what this means for them. When it comes down to it, though, it seems few will struggle to choose between iPhones and WeChat. In a Weibo poll asking people whether they would switch to a new smartphone or uninstall WeChat if the app disappears from iOS, more than 1.2 million out of 1.3 million people who voted indicated that they would get a new phone.
While a social media poll doesn’t represent all of China, the sentiment is real. It’s hard to overstate how essential WeChat is for Chinese smartphone users. More than just a messaging app, WeChat is also one of China’s two largest mobile payment apps, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of the US$8.4 trillion in mobile payment transactions just in the last quarter of 2019.
With this being the reality for most people in China, it’s easy to see how switching from iOS to Android might be less painful than for users elsewhere.
Kuo suggests there is some room for optimism: Perhaps Apple will only be forced to remove WeChat from the App Store in the US. In this case, Apple might only see iPhone shipments fall 3 to 6 per cent, Kuo argues.
Kuo also warns that other Apple products could be affected by a WeChat ban. If Apple removes the app globally, shipments of other popular products like AirPods, iPads, MacBooks and the Apple Watch could shrink by 15 to 25 per cent, he says. If the app is only removed from the US App Store, shipments of these products might fall less than 3 per cent.
While Kuo notes that the US government theoretically wouldn’t want do anything that hurts Apple, it’s possible US President Donald Trump has his focus elsewhere: the 2020 presidential election. This might result in more “radical” moves from the Trump administration to appeal to voters, Kuo says.