Apple recently apologized after a blistering public attack by several outlets within China's state-controlled media over its iPhone warranty and returns policies. Microsoft is now facing a similar attack, albeit presently far more muted, over its Surface tablet warranty policies.
(See also What's Really Behind China's Attacks On Apple.)
According to Bloomberg, China's state-owned radio criticized Microsoft because its Surface Pro does not adhere to the nation's "notebook computers" law, which requires a one-year repair warranty for the device and a two-year warranty for parts.
Microsoft, whch promotes the Surface Pro as "a laptop in tablet form," offers only a one-year warranty, according to Bloomberg.
Will Steve Ballmer Have To Apologize Like Tim Cook Did?
While the issue regarding warranty policies for the Surface Pro in China may ultimately prove minor, the potential for a far larger dust-up between Microsoft and China is very real. Recently, Apple faced withering criticism from China's state-run network television, CCTV, and state-run press, The People's Daily. Faced with a potential loss of sales in Apple's second-largest market, Apple CEO Tim Cook quickly offered a public apology and promised to alter the company's policies.
Quoting a China media specialist, Bloomberg suggests that, as with Apple, this initial Surface Pro story could become "the opening shot against the world's largest software maker."
While Surface sales have not been spectacular, Microsoft still has high hopes for the device. The company has been selling Surface tablets in China since October 2012. China was the second market, after the U.S., where Microsoft rolled-out the Surface line.
Microsoft has yet to publicly respond to this issue. Whatever Microsoft's response, however, it may not end how China's state-run media depicts the company and its products. A contrite statement from Steve Ballmer may ultimately be necessary.
As I noted earlier this month regarding Tim Cook's apology:
Cook's apology is a wise move. Apple needed to let the public know that the company was committed to the China market and that it treats its China customers the same way it treats others — by, for instance, offering new replacement phones instead of refurbished models.
Image of Surface Pro courtesy of Microsoft.