White House wonk says China ‘picked off’ Apple IP


Larry Kudlow
Tim Cook meeting an iPhone manufacturer in China.
Photo: Apple

A White House official said today China is stealing Apple technology secrets but did not provide specific details.

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow made the comment during a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg that included U.S. trade tensions with China.

“I don’t want to surmise too much here, but Apple technology may have been picked off by China and now China is becoming very competitive with Apple,” Kudlow said to Jonathan Ferro on Bloomberg Markets: The Open. “You’ve got to have rule of law. There are some indications from China that they’re looking at that, but we don’t know that yet. There’s no enforcement, there’s nothing concrete.”

Tough times for Apple in China

Apple started the new year telling investors that revenue goals for the holiday quarter will be billions of dollars short due to weaker-than-expected iPhone sales, particularly in China.

Apple’s iPhones are priced out of the reach of many Chinese consumers, who are turning to formidable brands like Huawei, Opportunity, and Xiamo for sophisticated smartphones that sell for hundreds of dollars less.

Theft of intellectual property (IP) has been a sticking point in trade talks with China and Kudlow said President Donal Trump wants American companies in China to be owned by Americans without a transfer of IP.

The range of topics, time and classified information may have prevented Kudlow from specifics. He did, however, offer passing criticism about Apple’s miscalculations with China before pivoting to another topic.

“Mr. Tim Cook is a friend of mine and a brilliant businessman,” Kudlow said. “Apple may have overextended. But I’m not here to second guess his business plan. Apple is not apocryphal and the slow down in China is quite significant.”

Sources: Apple Insider and Bloomberg