Apple Inc's iCloud services on the Chinese mainland will be operated by a local company from Feb 28, marking the latest push by the United States tech giant to meet local consumers' growing demand for better cloud services.
Apple said on Wednesday that Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry Co Ltd, an enterprise owned by the Guizhou provincial government, will operate its iCloud service on the Chinese mainland.
The move is the latest step in the deal announced by Apple in July 2017, when it said it would invest $1 billion on new data centers in Guizhou province.
"This change will allow us to continue to improve the speed and reliability of our products while also complying with newly passed regulations that cloud services be operated by Chinese companies," Apple said in a statement.
In a period of seven weeks starting from Jan 10, the company will send emails and push notifications to its Chinese customers, notifying them of the change.
"Users in the Chinese mainland can choose to opt out of using iCloud. And if the user is not a Chinese citizen from the mainland, they can correct their Apple ID country or region setting," Apple added.
James Yan, research director with Counterpoint Technology Market Research, a global research firm, said, "Such a move would further strengthen Apple's ties with the Chinese government, and help reduce the company's operating and maintenance costs of cloud services."
As for data security, he said the Chinese operator GCBD, with disaster recovery capabilities, has data privacy and security protection in place.
Apple is ratcheting up investment in China, where it is facing mounting competition from rivals such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.
In March, the Cupertino, California-based company announced plans to build two research and development centers in Shanghai and Suzhou, Jiangsu province, as part of its broad efforts to tap into the country's talent pool in manufacturing, design and app development.
The company also established two centers in Beijing and Shenzhen last year, and promised it would invest 3.5 billion yuan ($538 million) in these centers, highlighting the importance of China, the world's largest smartphone market.