Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook has bowed to pressure from consumers who demanded an apology over it's warranty policies in China, saying the company is sorry for any "concern or misunderstanding" in the country.
Cook's apology comes after the China Consumer's Association (CCA) asked Apple to "sincerely apologise" to Chinese consumers and "thoroughly correct its problems", after the US firm took little action to address waves of criticism started by the national broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).
"We are aware that due to insufficient communication, the public holds the idea that Apple is arrogant, disregards or pays little attention to the feedback of consumers," read a Chinese statement to consumers signed by Cook and posted on Apple China's website. "Therefore, we want to express our sincere apology for any concern or misunderstanding arising from the process."
CCTV accused Apple of offering discriminatory after-sales services in China in a special TV program to mark the International Day for Protecting Consumers' Rights on March 15.
However, Apple insisted in the statement that "nearly 90 per cent of consumers are satisfied with our warranty policies".
Cook said over the past two weeks, Apple has received feedback concerning its warranty policies in China and the company has "reflected" over such opinions.
"We have always respected China and Chinese consumers have always been our priority among priorities," Cook noted in the statement, saying Apple has studied the warranty policies in China with authorities, examined the way it communicated over warranty and reviewed the management standards of Apple authorised service providers.
In the statement, Apple said the company is making four major adjustments to improve its after-sales services for Chinese consumers, including improving its warranty for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, enhancing supervision over and training for authorized service providers.
"Apple is making greater efforts to ensure Apple Authorized Service Providers follow our policies and offer high quality services to consumers," Cook said in the statement.
Apple was told earlier by the CCA to equalise the warranty periods in China with other countries. The association argued Chinese buyers of iPads, after the company admitted the device is classifiable as a portable computer, are entitled to two-year after-sale service packages for its key components.
"Apple should inform consumers if refurbished parts are used when repairing broken devices, and repair costs should be counted accordingly," the CCA said.
According to the CCA, complaints about after-sale service account for 25.6 per cent of the total 2,170 complaints the association has received about Apple products, seven percentage points higher than the average data for the home appliance sector.
Data from iiMedia Research Group showed Apple has only 7.7 per cent of China's smartphone market, behind 22.5 per cent of Samsung, 10.7 per cent of Lenovo and three other domestic brands.
Smartphone sales hit 169 million in China last year.