The U.S. sportswear giant Nike announced that it would end the Nike Running Club (NRC) app in China from next month.
Nike is the latest Western company to reconfigure its business in the world’s second-largest market, following similar announcements from Kindle, Airbnb, and LinkedIn.
On June 8, Nike said that it would deactivate the service for mainland Chinese users from July 8, citing “business reasons.”
Nike Run Club allows users to track their runs and perform challenges with friends.
According to Retail News Asia, the app has attracted more than 8 million users in China. They have collectively covered more than 600 million kilometers (nearly 373 million miles).
China is also a major manufacturing hub and one of Nike’s top markets. About a fifth of Nike’s footwear and apparel are manufactured there.
In its most recent annual report, Nike said it made nearly 8.3 billion dollars in revenue in Greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, in the last fiscal year. That number was more than its sales in the rest of the Asia Pacific and Latin America combined.
Regarding the decision to end the Run Club app, Nike said it is “due to business reasons.”
According to SCMP, the decision comes just months after China implemented two new laws, the Personal Information Protection Law and Data Security Law. These laws would affect apps collecting personal data in China and exporting such data overseas.
Meanwhile, the Nike apps ask users for permission to export their personal information and sports data to other devices.
That may be why a Nike spokesperson said the company would roll out a localized platform for Chinese runners in the future.
The spokesperson said: “We are creating an ecosystem from China for China, specifically catered to the region’s unique consumer needs.”
More foreign companies to decouple from China
Nike has become the latest foreign company to stop online business in China. Earlier this month, U.S. e-commerce giant Amazon.com said it would no longer operate its Kindle e-book store in China.
Earlier withdrawals from China were Yahoo and Microsoft’s LinkedIn. The two U.S. companies were pioneers in the Chinese market and provided localized platforms and services but decided to withdraw from the Chinese consumer market in 2021.
In late May, apartment rental company Airbnb said that it would no longer list properties for rent in China.
Even Apple is looking to reduce its exposure to China.
Zhang Jiatun, a U.S. expert on China, told Fox Sunday that the recently reported decision of Apple Inc. to move its production of iPad components from a Chinese factory to Vietnam shows that U.S. companies are slowly waking up to China.
Apple’s decision is said to be based on supply chain disruptions and frequent interruptions to production schedules.
Zhang Jiatun said that some American companies are still doing business in China for various reasons. However, he believes that these companies should gradually withdraw from China.