They say politics makes for strange bedfellows. Strange for sure. How else do you explain what happened to the Republican Party this year? Politics used to be about give and take. Those days are gone but the old ways have not been forgotten.
China is a good example of how the old ways of give and take still rule. China needs Apple. Apple needs China. So, who’s in control? Apple? Or, China? In China, corrupt politicians are the norm (where is it not?), and the government doesn’t seem to mind until the corruption becomes public and specific, and then heads will roll. Literally.
Just a few weeks ago the Chinese government clamped down on Apple’s iTunes Store. No, it wasn’t because iTunes is such a messed up behemoth that it needed government intervention. China suspended iTunes movies and iBook services for a reason. Was it because of the dangers of Western influence upon the innocent masses of Chinese people? That sounds reasonable but not likely because China seems to have adopted plenty of Western culture already.
Just a few weeks after Apple’s iTunes movies and iBook Store was shuttered by China, Apple invested $1-billion in China’s Uber, Didi Chuxing. Apple doesn’t invest $1-billion in much unless it’s music, solar powered data centers, and spaceships that look like buildings.
Somewhere, someone has a PowerPoint presentation that highlights the coming changes to earthly transportation. As the earth’s population increases and compresses humans into ever more small spaces– and China knows about the phenomenon more than others– automobiles for the masses will become passé. Riding sharing will rule, automobiles will be called on demand, as needed, and the Ubers, Lyfts, and Didi’s of the world will need all the fully autonomous vehicles they can get.
In the meantime, Apple has money, and money greases the palms of those who make things happen in a country like China, and Apple dearly needs to make a few things happen as soon as possible in the land where the iPhone rises. Uber hasn’t done well in China but Apple has. What better way to get in on the good graces of Chinese government officials than to invest in a company they probably invested in already to help grow Didi’s valuation and win, win, win. For everyone.
If iTunes movies and iBooks show up in China again in a few weeks you’ll know my analysis was spot on. If not, Apple’s $1-billion investment in Didi still might yield fruit. So to speak. In the U.S. there are almost as many cars and trucks as people, and that math just doesn’t translate to China where ride-sharing and ride-hailing (2016 verbiage for ‘taxicab’) are growing rapidly and will be come the norm for personal transportation.
Apple wants in on that future because Apple Car. What better way to get there than to grease some palms and make a few rich allies along the way?