World of Weibo

A bruised Apple?

Negative comments flood Apple’s newly-opened weibo account

While most companies scramble to curate content to increase their social media presence, tech giant Apple has a very different strategy. It uses Facebook, but mainly to push ads during the holidays to promote new products. Even though it has 2.7 million followers on its official Twitter account it has never tweeted.

There is a reason for being low-key, some reckon, as Apple could avoid negative comments from users clogging its feeds.

That is indeed a problem because when Apple finally created its first social media account in China on Sina Weibo – which aimed to dispense technical support and tips to Chinese customers – the response proved overwhelming. Overwhelmingly bad, that is.

So far, Apple has only sent out three weibo posts. Within a few hours of the first being sent – which simply said “hello.”– it was flooded with more than 15,000 questions and complaints about the new iPhone. One netizen asked, “Can I swap the Qualcomm chip on my iPhone XS Max?” Before Apple could respond, another netizen chimed in: “The signal on the XS phone is rubbish.”

The Chinese are not the only ones complaining about the poor signal strength of the iPhone XS and XS Max. Since their release last September, consumers around the world have made a fuss about the weak wireless reception and call signals, which can lead to calls dropping. Apple has never acknowledged such a problem exists.

There were other pressing questions from Chinese netizens: some asked what to do when the GPS wasn’t working on their phone while others wondered why their iPhone screens look yellow. Apple made an effort to reply to each question and thanked the users for their support. However, all the answers were fairly similar, which led TechWeb to suggest that the tech giant is using AI chatbots to generate the automated responses.

Since saying “hello” on April 23, Apple has garnered over 160,000 followers on Sina Weibo (Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, who posts frequently about his activities in China, has almost 1.2 million followers on the same platform). On Tuesday Apple unveiled its most recent quarterly results. Its sales in Greater China fell 22% year-on-year – though the Wall Street Journal pointed out that was an improvement on the prior quarter, with Cook ascribing it to Chinese VAT cuts that led to lower iPhone prices.

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