Apple’s business model in China will probably clash with the desires of Beijing’s authoritarian government, Ian Bremmer predicted on Thursday.
“I think that within five to 10 years max, Apple doesn’t have a model in China,” Bremmer said during a presentation at the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit. Bremmer is the president and founder of consulting firm Eurasia Group.
Apple relies on China for a chunk of its revenue. China is such an important market for Apple that the company issued a rare sales warning last month because of slowing growth and rising trade tensions there.
But Bremmer argues that Apple is the antithesis of what Beijing wants.
“Apple is really good at high-end consumer products that have secure data. Why would China want you to have that?” Bremmer asked. “That’s completely opposed to the Chinese model.”
China’s government relies on heavy-handed censorship to prevent dissent in its society.
Alphabet’s Google recently came under fire for reportedly building a censored search engine to get back into the Chinese market. After facing a backlash inside and outside Google, CEO Sudar Pichai told Congress late last year there are no plans to launch in China.
“They are going to ensure that Apple doesn’t have a model in China,” Bremmer said.
He didn’t specify how exactly China’s government would pressure Apple’s business.
Bremmer struck a more optimistic tone on the US-China trade war. He predicted that the United States would not levy any more tariffs on China on when the ceasefire expires on March 1.
“A deal is coming,” Bremmer said, noting that neither government wants to deal with the market and economic fallout. “That’s the way globalization is supposed to work.”
But Bremmer sees a prolonged confrontation between the United States and China on the technology front. He predicted a battle for supremacy in crucial cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and 5G.
“We’re heading toward a cold war. And I don’t know which one is going to win,” Bremmer said.