Enlarge / the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.Andrew Cunningham
A Chinese regulator has told Apple to stop selling the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the city of Beijing, according to a report from Bloomberg.
The Beijing Intellectual Property Office has ruled that the phones infringe on the external design patents of the Shenzhen Bali 100C, which like the vast majority of smartphones today looks like a gently rounded rectangle.
It's a confusing order, especially given the number of Chinese smartphone makers who design and sell iPhone-esque Android phones. It may be another round of pushback by the Chinese government against an American company, not unlike the decision to shut down the iBooks and iTunes Movies stores in China back in April.
This order may not have a huge impact on Apple's bottom line—at least not all by itself. It only affects sales of the nearly two-year-old iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, not the newer and externally identical iPhone 6S and 6S Plus; it only affects iPhones being sold in Beijing and not in the rest of the country; and the 6 and 6 Plus are likely to be discontinued sometime this fall, when Apple releases a new "iPhone 7," moving the 6S series down into the mid-market spot and keeping the newer iPhone SE as the bottom-tier model.
The Bloomberg report also says that Apple could be allowed to sell the phones while it appeals the decision.
China is currently Apple's second-largest market after the Americas, and through all of Apple's fiscal 2015 it was by far its biggest growth area.
The large-screened iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were a big factor in that growth, though it hasn't continued into 2016. We've contacted Apple for comment and will update this piece if we receive a response.