Forget TikTok, Apple iPhone shipments could drop 30% with WeChat ban, analyst says


President Donald Trump signed two executive orders last week banning TikTok and WeChat in September.

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With all the drama over President Donald Trump’s threats to ban the international Chinese social networking sensation TikTok, tech watchers in the US haven’t spent as much time considering what banning TenCent’s WeChat might lead to as well. Well, a well-connected Apple analyst crunched the numbers and estimates iPhone sales could drop as much as 30% worldwide if a ban goes into effect. Other Apple products could see drops of up to 25% as well.

“Since WeChat is very critical to Chinese users, integrating communications, payments, e-Commerce, social software, news reading, and productivity functions,” Kuo wrote in a note to investors published by AppleInsider and MacRumors, “we believe that the move will tank iPhone shipments in the Chinese market.”

Kuo based his estimates on a belief that if the WeChat ban goes through, it would likely be forced out of Apple’s App Store worldwide. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The estimate marks the latest way analysts are attempting to understand what Trump’s government bans on the two Chinese apps from our smartphones would mean for companies like Apple. Trump is frequently criticized for making policy decisions, such as imposing tariffs on imports, that raise prices on American industry and consumers.

As a result of Trump’s threats, companies are scrambling to avoid the ban. Microsoft has expressed interest in acquiring part or all of TikTok, for example. The social network, which counts more than a billion downloads worldwide and 100 million users in the US, said it also plans to sue in an attempt to stop the ban.

Kuo said he expects Apple would comply with a ban if it goes through. The company did remove WeChat from its App Store in India, when the government there instituted a ban of its own in June.

If the bans take effect, Kuo said a best-case scenario is that Apple would only be forced to remove the Chinese apps from its US App Store. In that case, iPhone sales would decline by as much as 6%, and other Apple devices would likely fall less than 3%.

“Theoretically, the US government will not hurt Apple,” Kuo wrote. “However, the U.S. presidential election is approaching, and we think Trump may adopt more aggressive strategies for the election, including asking Apple to remove WeChat from worldwide App Stores.”

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