Apple's possible exclusion of BeiDou navigation in new iPhones sparks debate among Chinese consumers
Apple Inc is reportedly poised to release its new lineup of iPhones next month, but some Chinese fans and technology bloggers appear more interested in whether the company will finally include support for China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) than in any new smartphone technologies or designs.
Some in China have called on Apple to include support for the BDS to improve navigation accuracy, and some have termed Apple's failure to do so as "unfriendly" action toward Chinese consumers that might even warrant a boycott. But others argue that given the BDS' relatively new presence in the global market, further improvements are needed before it receives wider support.
In a blog post on Chinese online discussion platform wukong.com on Monday, one author claimed that the new iPhones set to be released in September will "again" not include support for the BDS and the person noted that iPhone's processor has long denied support for the BDS.
"What's more exasperating is that last year, the iPhone X added two major navigation systems - the Galileo system in Europe and the Quasi-Zenith System in Japan - but the BDS, which was independently developed by China, was still excluded," read the post, which generated more than 2,600 comments as of Tuesday.
The author pointed out that the BDS has achieved great accuracy in recent years and many Chinese and foreign smartphone brands have added support for the BDS, including Huawei, Xiaomi and Samsung. "Apple's decision to omit support for the BDS might be a commercial consideration, but it cannot be ruled out that this American company has reached certain compromises with the U.S. government and intends to obstruct the development of China's BDS," it said.
Apple did not respond to the Global Times' interview request as of press time. But some observers pointed out that as a latecomer in the global market dominated by the U.S.' GPS and Russia's Glonass, the BDS has a disadvantage.
"The strength of the BDS should be obvious to all, but it is also undeniable that the BDS entered the market rather late and faces a competitive disadvantage in marketing," a blogger wrote in a lengthy comment to the blog post on wukong.com.
The blogger said that for Apple, there's no need to modify iPhones to use the BDS "unless the BDS fully surpasses the GPS' functions."
A Beijing-based technology industry expert told the Global Times that to add support for the BDS, Apple does not need "much modification" of its iPhones and it's "rather a very easy process," although it does require Apple to make certain changes to its procurement for processors.
"I think this is mostly a political consideration. Apple is a company but it is based in the U.S. and it does not want to get on the U.S. government's wrong side by adding support for the BDS, which is basically aimed at challenging the U.S.' GPS," said the expert, who requested anonymity.