After the passing of Steve Jobs, China’s micro-blogs and social networks exploded. The outpouring of support and sympathy is making clear the profound effect Apple’s brand- and by extension its leader – had on Chinese consumers.
In the recent years, Apple has opened flagship stores in China’s wealthiest cities in order to combat the abundance of knock-offs affecting the company’s sales in China. Due to the store’s sleek design and Apple’s strong international brand, iPhones, iPads and Macbooks have achieved cult status among many wealthier, tech-savvy consumers.
But it wasn’t just the consumers of Apple’s products that were moved by the death of the company’s visionary. Youku, China’s YouTube, set up a page for users to post videos to pay tribute to Jobs. The micro-blogging service, Sina Weibo, set up a public page in his honor. Many Chinese netizens have gone online to express their sympathy for a man they never knew and whose products some of them could never afford.
A user going by the handle Buting Zheteng wrote, “Jobs is gone, this is the first time a foreigner’s death has been hard for me to take.”
Others conveyed their sympathy by laying bouquets of flowers out front of Apple stores; many did so with tears in their eyes.
Steve Jobs’ vision and the importance he placed on imagination and innovation resonated with the Chinese, as it did with many peoples around the world. His death’s effect on China is a example of the strong bond between consumer and company that many companies strive to form. To those laying flowers below the neon Apple sign in Beijing’s Sanlituan market, Apple – and its founder – mean more than sleek gadgets. Steve Jobs was a symbol of originality, inovation and progress.