Apple CEO Tim Cook isn't afraid to say "I'm Sorry."
Today Cook issued an apology letter on Apple's Chinese website, apologizing to Chinese customers for misunderstandings about its repair and warranty policy in the country. Cook, who became CEO of Apple in August 2011, issued a similar apology letter on Apple's website after releasing its flawed Maps app.
"In the past two weeks, we have received a lot of feedback about Apple's repair and warranty policy in China," a translated version of Cook's letter reads. "We express our sincere apologies for any concerns or misunderstandings this gives consumers."
Over the last couple of weeks, a number of Chinese media outlets have complained about warranty issues at Apple stores. According to China's People's Daily Newspaper, China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce issued a notice asking authorities to closely monitor Apple's warranty rules in the country. China Central Television network also accused Apple of offering unequal warranty and repair policies. It said that Apple offered shorter warranty periods in China than in other countries and didn't provide the same level of repair quality as it did in other areas of the world.
Tim Cook now says that the company will be enacting four changes in China: it will improve iPhone repair policies, provide a clearer Apple repair and warranty policy, increase the supervision and training of Apple Authorized Service Providers and make it easier for customers to contact Apple's Feedback service. Customers that have the 1-year warranty will now get a replacement iPhone 4 and 4S, rather than just replacement parts.
The Chinese market has grown to be increasingly important to Apple and other smartphone makers. In 2011, China became Apple's second-largest market, behind the U.S. During Apple's last earnings report, it announced that it saw the highest iPhone growth in China. Cook said on that earnings call that Apple would continue to focus on growth in the country.
Apple vowed last year to improve working conditions at its manufacturing facilities in China by reducing working hours for Chinese workers. In January, Apple announced that it had stopped doing business with a Chinese manufacturer after a report said it had employed 74 underage workers.
"Heartfelt thank you to give us valuable feedback, we always harbor immense respect to China, the Chinese consumer is always the top priority of our hearts," Cook concluded in his letter released today.