Apple Having iTunes Trouble with ChinaBy: Chris Crum - August 22, 2008
Apple is everywhere in the news this week, with its big score on the American customer satisfaction Index, its MobileMe problems, its iPhone 3G lawsuit, and now issues with the Chinese government. Apple’s iTunes store has been blocked in China for pushing a controversial benefit album.
The album, "Songs For Tibet: The Art of Peace," is a compilation of popular artists including Sting, Alanis Morissette, and Moby. Proceeds from the purchase of the album go to the Dalai Lama’s cause. However, the proceeds won’t be coming from China if their government has anything to say about it.
They’re not only blocking access to the iTunes store, but to show they’re not playing favorites, they have also blocked Amazon’s album download and CD-purchase pages.
iTunes is promoting Songs for Tibet pretty heavily. The album is even advertised as the iTunes store prepares to load here in the States.
It appears to have been the heavy promotion of this album that led to the iTunes blockage in the first place. It was not blocked until the Art of Peace Foundation (the organization behind the album) issued a press release saying that 40 Olympic athletes had already downloaded it.
As an afterthought, the blocking does not really come as a shock, but Apple must’ve been a little surprised to have suddenly had its entire iTunes store shut down in China.
As for the album itself? Let’s just say the reviews are mixed. Jeff Giles at Bullz-eye.com writes:
Among the album’s worst offenders are Sting, who contributes a useless remix of the already-crappy "Send Your Love"; Moby, whose new version of "We Are All Made of Stars" is the very definition of inessential; and Underworld, whose "To Heal (And Restore Broken Bodies)" is ultimately far less interesting than its title. The Alanis track, titled "Versions of Violence," sounds impressively polished for something that was recorded in a dressing room, but unfortunately, it finds Morissette in full-on screeching hippie mode – as a song, it’s pretty bad, but it does make you wonder how quickly Chinese Communist Party officials would cave into Tibet’s demands if they were locked in a room with the singer while she performed it.
Maybe a better strategy for the Chinese government to dissuade people from getting the album would have been to post reviews like this.