National Security Concerns Heat Up Smartphone Wars

Editor’s Note: For information about security “tweaks” made by Apple at the behest of Chinese regulators, see here.

From: Seeking Alpha

, Young’s China Business Blog

A trio of headlines is shining a spotlight on a new twist in the brutally competitive smartphone market, where national security is suddenly becoming a major new headache for manufacturers. In one headline, Chinese smartphone sensation Xiaomi is being investigated in Taiwan for national security risks related to the storage of local user data on some offshore mainland Chinese-based computers. In a similar news bit, Beijing is reportedly considering forbidding government workers from using foreign-made smartphones.

And in yet another related story, global smartphone giant Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is reportedly finally on the cusp of winning approval to sell its new iPhone 6 in China, following an embarrassing delay that may be related to the cybersecurity issue.

At the heart of most of the concerns is a growing generation of new smartphone-based services that are provided directly by handset manufacturers rather than traditional telcos. Problems arise when the manufacturers host such services on computers in their home markets. That makes it legally difficult or impossible for countries like China to force companies like Apple to hand over records for China-based iPhone users when there are national security concerns, since such data is technically housed in off-shore locations outside Chinese jurisdiction.

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