Taiwan-based technology manufacturing group Hon Hai Precision will become the general agent for Apple's (AAPL) products on the Chinese mainland and the company will start its large-scale deployment in the mainland channels market later this year.
According to the reports in Hong Kong and Taiwan media, Hon Hai will initially target the mainland market through its consumer electronics division and its mainland channel supplier subsidiary CyberMart. Having become one of the largest electronics original equipment manufacturers in the world, Hon Hai's next goal is to become the largest channel supplier on the Chinese mainland. The company hopes to create new business opportunities through combination of manufacturing and channels.
On December 23, 2006, Chinese media reported on Apple's unfair after-sales service for iPods sold in China, saying that Apple's Global Repair Policy contradicted the Consumer Law of China. However, Zhao Jiaoli, secretary general of the Shanghai Municipal Consumer Interest Protection Commission, said in March 2007 that Apple was the first international electronics company that has made such great commitments to improving its after-sales services after listening to Chinese consumers' requests. This latest deal with Hon Hai appears geared towards addressing some of those ongoing consumer concerns.
In 2006, Apple was also the target of international condemnation when Hon Hai's subsidiary Foxconn, an OEM for Apple's iPod, was reported in Britain to have been unfairly treating its employees in China. Subsequent investigations found the British tabloid's report overblown, but it did draw attention to both Apple's labor relations and business interests in China via Hon Hai.
Apple opened its first self-owned stores in China in 2008 after operating for many years through various agents.