On Tuesday, Apple unveiled a new color option for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus that it launched last year. The new red models are co-branded as (PRODUCT)RED, as part of its collaboration with (RED), an alliance that raises funds to help combat the spread and effects of HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Apple is by far the largest donor to the fund, having contributed over $130 million so far, as a portion of the sales of each (PRODUCT)RED device that's purchased goes to the charitable organization. However, in China, Apple has dropped the (PRODUCT)RED branding from the new red models.
Fortune asked Apple to comment on its decision, but the company did not respond. Apple's website in China simply refers to the red color option as a 'special edition'; it also omits any reference to its contributions towards helping to "deliver an AIDS-free generation" that can be found on its US site.
In the absence of an official comment from the company, Mashable has suggested one possible explanation, after speaking with Dr Jingsi Christina Wu, Assistant Professor of Journalism, Media Studies and Public Relations at Hofstra University. HIV/AIDS "is a big public health and social issue" in China, she explained, but added: "Officially and politically, the government still has a very cautious approach." It seems possible that Apple's desire to avoid offending or antagonizing the Chinese government may have influenced its decision.
The red options have proved popular so far in China. Retailer JD.com got more than 310,000 registrations in the first 24 hours after publishing its product page for the device, and that number has since increased to almost 410,000 at time of writing.