Apple has hit a rare (though small) bump in the road in its growing penetration of China as some students at Peking University (PKU) have called a new Apple study center in a school library an invasion of a “sacred place.” The learning center includes 430 square feet of Apple gear intended to be used by students while they study, but some of those students resent the intrusion into a library that is already short on seating space and consider it an effort to mix consumerism with academics.
The learning center is being managed by a local authorized Apple retailer, but the space itself doesn’t include any products that are for sale. Instead, Apple (through its retailer) has set up Macs and iOS devices that can be used for research, writing, and other study activities into a glass-enclosed space that is 40 square meters, or roughly 430 square feet.
“We’ll install study-related software to assist students using digital methods,” an anonymous library employee told The People Daily, adding that the products are not for sale.
At the same time, however, Shanghai Liangyu Technology Development Company, the Apple reseller managing the operation, said that students would be able to order products through the learning center, products offered at an educational discount like in the U.S.
Macs for sale or not, that 430 square feet used to be a dedicated study space, and such study space was already in high demand in the library. So while some may welcome the presence of free computers for their use, others see it as an invasion of consumerism into a space that should be devoted to academics.
“It’s totally against the spirit and environment of the library,” a student surnamed Chen told Chinese-language newspaper Global Times. “Apple should have discounts or give-back activities if they want self-promotion, other than introducing this commercial thing into a sacred place like this.”
Not everyone found bad teeth in this particular gift horse, however. One student told People Daily that, “I’d like to see another place in the school where students can have more study resources with the assistance of digital products.”
One of the university’s professors, Xia Xueluan, took up a position right smack in the middle of the road, offering, “It’s good to have a digital service to help students study, but the location should be somewhere independent that does not disturb others.”
There are no plans for removing the learning center.