So this is an interesting underreported story from February 2018 – as it turns out, iPhones sold in China will soon use specific NAND chips made by a specific Chinese company that won’t be used in iPhones sold outside of China.
Apple is in talks with state-backed Yangtze Memory Technologies to buy NAND flash chips from it, a move that will mark the U.S. giant’s first purchase from a Chinese memory chipmaker and a huge boost to the local sector.
Whether Apple is under any pressure to buy from Chinese makers is unclear. Afterall, China has been known to apply pressure on foreign technology companies that want to operate within the country. One thing is for sure, Chinese deals will help Apple grow its business there, according to an industry executive.
As such, the earliest that the deal could come into fruition will be 2019 but industry sources say it is more likely to be after 2020 before Yangtze Memory can produce enough of the components at a standard that Apple requires. Apple will use these chips in new iPhone models and other products for sale in the Chinese domestic market specifically, according to two people familiar with the matter.
So, Apple has already handed over the iCloud data of its Chinese customers to the Chinese government through a government-owned datacenter company, and soon, iPhones sold in China will use China-specific NAND chips that won’t be used in iPhones outside of China. With yesterday’s Bloomberg story fresh in our minds, is it really that far-fetched to assume these China-specific NAND chips are unsafe, or perhaps even have a backdoor in them that weakens on-device encryption?
There is no way that the Chinese government would somehow exempt Apple from aiding in government surveillance, and these seemingly unrelated news stories all seem to suggest that Apple is, indeed, doing so.