Apple has released iOS 8.4 with ‘Apple Music’, spurring global excitement over the new service. But one market won’t be celebrating, and it happens to be the second biggest consumer of Apple products: China.

People in 100 countries and territories were able to download the update last night, but China did not make the list despite early reports that they would. Meanwhile, both Hong Kong and Taiwan have made the cut for the first release.

The company didn’t explicitly reveal why the Middle Kingdom was not included, but it’s likely to do with the competitive nature of China’s existing streaming ecosystem. Dominant players Tencent and Baidu already feature strong streaming services, as well as many other smaller players. 

The market is also notoriously for its piracy culture, making the monetization of music, film and tv challenging. It’s for these reasons that Apple Music competitors such as Spotify have stuck to surrounding markets including Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. 

Likewise, in 2012 Google shut down its China-exclusive music service after 3 years, citing poor performance in a company blog. “The influence of this product turned out to be lower than we expected, and as a result we decided to transfer our resources to other products instead,” said the company. 

Aside from market competition, streaming services in Asia also have the tough job of adapting to regional music tastes where local players perform better. While Apple Music will not be a feature in the latest update for China users, it will likely seek out a solution to the issue in the future given the market potential of the country’s growing middle class. Early this year, iPhone sales outstripped local and international competitors to become the most popular smartphone in urban China.

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Cate is a tech writer. She worked as a journalist in Australia, Mongolia and Myanmar. You can reach her (in Chinese or English) at: @catecadell or

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1 Comment

  1. Google basically left mainland China in 2010 and access to its search engine has been blocked for quite a while.

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