The Nanyang Yongkang Medicine Company, located in the Henan province, sent out a memo to staff explicitly telling staff not to buy the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. Those that ignored the directive were told they should simply resign, according to the BBC’s translation of the document, which had been shared extensively on Chinese social media.
Nanyang Yongkang Medicine was reported to be not the only company in China that threatens harsh action against employees that decide Apple’s latest smartphone is the one for them.
However, there's always a chance extreme messages like this are fake, or have been misinterpreted, unless the company verifies the document. A local news outlet that spoke to the firm said the memo came from the chairman, but wasn't a rally against the iPhone specifically. It was instead about promoting spending time and money on family, rather than an expensive smartphone. However, no-one has resigned or been fired for owning an iPhone 7 yet.
A hospital in China has also taken an anti-iPhone stance, and banned workers from buying the iPhone 7. While it's not threatening anyone’s job, it does say Apple fans with an iPhone 7 in their hand won't get a good appraisal in the future, may miss out on pay increases, and will be advised to return the device. It was a response to a member of the hospital's team that had spent three months wages on an iPhone 7.
Again, like Nanyang Yongkang Medicine, this wasn't really about the iPhone itself, but its cost. The manager told the BBC its company stood for diligence and frugality, and borrowing money or even selling organs to fund the purchase of an iPhone 7 didn't fit in with this thinking. The iPhone 7 starts at the equivalent of US$ 800 in China, and the iPhone 7 Plus from US$ 960.
Apple isn't having an easy time in China at the moment. It’s apparently now the fifth most popular smartphone manufacturer with a market share of 7 percent, down from over 9 percent this time last year, and behind Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi — all of which are Chinese.
Apple is doing its best to win approval in China, with major investments there including stock in local ride-sharing platform Didi Chuxing, and building a new research and development facility that will be completed by the end of the year.