First Apple, now Microsoft. China is again raising a ruckus over warranty policies on U.S. tech products, this time targeting the Surface tablet.
China National Radio, the government's mouthpiece, argued yesterday that the Surface tablet should follow national law by offering a one-year repair policy for the entire tablet and a two-year warranty for its major parts, Bloomberg reported. China National Radio claims that Microsoft offers a one-year warranty in China both on the device and its components.
Microsoft, however, contends that Surface is covered by a two-year warranty. A spokeswoman for the company sent CNET the following statement:
Consistent with Chinese law, Surface Pro and its main components are covered under a two-year warranty. Microsoft's warranty for Surface (and all our products) complies with -- and may exceed -- what local consumer law requires. We stand behind our products with a manufacturer's warranty -- which is additional to our commitment to honor any statutory obligation -- as either a manufacturer or retailer -- to repair or replace a faulty product.
The dig against Microsoft is clearly an attempt to cash in on the uproar created when China blasted Apple for its warranty policies last month. The resulting controversy prompted Apple CEO Tim Cook to issue a public apology and tweak the policies. Following Cook's mea culpa, Apple was once again in the good graces of the Chinese media.
"It sounds potentially worrisome; it looks (like) a copycat of the whole Apple thing," Doug Young, author of the book "The Party Line: How the Media Dictates Public Opinion in Modern China," told Bloomberg.
China National Radio claims the criticism against Microsoft is unrelated to the charges leveled against Apple. A reporter for the state-run media outlet told Bloomberg that the story surfaced after listeners started to complain about Microsoft's warranty policies.
With its huge number of technology buyers, China represents a lucrative market for U.S. companies, such as Apple and Microsoft. Any bad press propagated by the government-run media easily can create a consumer backlash. To avoid that scenario, Cook wisely opted to address the complaints through his online apology.
Whether it's accurate or not, if negative news about Microsoft spreads further, will CEO Steve Ballmer be forced to follow Cook's example?
Updated 11:25 a.m. PT with statement from Microsoft.